Wednesday, March 23, 2016

BOOKS: Helen Humpherys

I went on a little Helen Humphreys spree...

The Lost Garden, 183 pages

Such a wonderful book! A horticulturist from London gets sent to the country to oversee a garden to supply food for England during the war. She is unsure of herself, in charge of young women all with their own struggles during the war. She finds a hidden garden and tries to make sense of the person who planned it. Again, I'm impressed with how much Humphreys can say with so little. Personal struggles within the country struggles. Very touching.

The Evening Chorus, 302 pages

Another WW2 novel and how people try to survive during trying circumstances. James is in a prison camp in Germany; his young wife is left behind on her own in England. James spends his time observing birds and Rose ends up with James' sister living with her.

External conflicts as well as internal conflicts. Life.

The Frozen Thames, 192 pages
Did anyone else ever read London by James Rutherford? It was a behemoth of a book, endeavoring to chronicle the history of London by making stops and telling stories at many points in time for 2000 years. It was excellent.

This is the precis version of London, and it was excellent as well. Through out its history, the River Thames has frozen over about forty times. Not every year, given the temperate climate, but often enough that it was an event. Humphreys takes each time that it has frozen and written a little story. The book itself is small, and has pictures and photographs representing the stories. From the poor to royalty, the frozen river had an impact. Each individual story isn't the story though - it's how Humphreys chronicles the events and records a time in history. With the new building of London Bridge, the Thames will never freeze again.

Overall, Humphreys includes many nature motifs in her novels - the flora in The Lost Garden and fauna in The Evening Chorus and ice in The Frozen Times. If I was her publisher, I'd package up The Lost Garden, The Evening Chorus and Coventry as a set that represents England during WW2.