Somehow the 1940’s has become a recurrent theme in all my media outlets this week. It all started when I tuned into the Big Band Pandora radio station over the weekend, progressed into my television viewing on Sunday and advanced into my reading choices my midweek.
Maybe the launch of Season 2 of Downton Abbey on PBS has caused this need for me to immerse myself in a time period that I’ve only known about through my parents and television. Or maybe I kind of wish I had experienced the romance of it on my own. Of course movies and TV do tend to glamorize and sanitize things to the point that I’m sure they aren’t recognizable to those that actually lived through the events.
Downton Abbey, the TV series and Gosford Park, the movie, are two of my favorites and they are both from the creative mind of Julian Fellowes.
I’ve just finished two books set during the beginnings of WWII in England that I really enjoyed. The House of Tyneford by Natasha Solomons is set in a country house, much like those depicted in Downton Abbey and Brideshead Revisited, the novel by Evelyn Waugh. In all three stories these stately manors are given over to the british army to assist in the war efforts. Downton Abbey and Brideshead during WWI and Tyneford during WWII. The House of Tyneford is set around Elise Landau, a 19 year old Austrian Jew. Elise lives a glamorous life in Vienna but her parents decide to send her to England to escape the feared Nazi occupation of Austria. They decide to stay behind and wait for visas to America. Elise is fortunate to be able to secure a position as a parlor maid at Tyneford where her life is much different than before. I raced through the book and recommend it highly.
The second book, Mr Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal, was a giveaway of an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) on Goodreads. It was also a page turner but with a slightly different premise and more of a mystery quality to it. Maggie Hope, an American with dual british citizenship, becomes a secretary to Winston Churchill during the beginnings of the war. This novel gives you the beginning views of the war from London right in Churchill’s war rooms. There is also a pretty darn good mystery at the heart of the story.
I have one more 1940’s theme to DVD to watch before my week ends, Land GIrls, and then maybe next week I will progress into a different decade!