My thanks to the publishers for my copy of the book
and to Random Things Tours for the invitation to the blog tour
George Bunting, businessman, husband and father, lives a quiet life at home in Laburnam Villa in Essex, reading about the progress of the war in his trusty Siren newspaper and heading to work every day at same the warehouse where he has been employed for his entire adult life. Viewed with an air of slight amusement by his three children, Mr Bunting’s war efforts comprise mainly of digging for victory and reluctantly erecting a dugout in the garden. But as the Second World War continues into the summer of 1940, the Battle of Britain rages in the skies and the bombs begin to reign down on London, this bumbling ‘everyman’ is forced to confront the true realities of the conflict. He does so with a remarkable stoicism, imbuing him with a quiet dignity.
This reprint of a 1941 classic includes an introduction from IWM putting the work in historical context and shedding a light on the wartime experiences of the quiet ‘everyman’ and his family on the British Home Front: He was not brilliant, nor heroic, but there was one thing he could do – endure. He could stick it out right to the end. It was the one thing he was good at, and it happened to be almost his sole duty.
📖 My Review..
Mr Bunting at War looks at the life of the eponymous George Bunting who lives an ordered life in Laburnum Villas in Essex. He travels to London each day to work at Brockley's, an established ironmongery business, which hasn't, up until now, appreciated George's finer qualities, that is, until the expediency of war causes him to be promoted. We meet the Bunting's family in the early years of the Second World War when George is troubled by his family's seeming indifference to the fact that there is a war going on.
There's a gentleness to the narrative which belies its strength as it takes us directly into the ordered life of the suburban household on the cusp of some of the worst war time devastation. Of course, we can look back with hindsight, to the destruction caused by the bombs which rained down on London, but to those going about their daily lives, they had little sense of what was to come, with many going so far as to think it was simply just an 'empty threat'.
What Mr Bunting at War brings into sharp focus is the way in which the ordinariness of life was forever changed. People were not just making do and mending, they were enduring hardship which would characterise them for rest of the war. However, with true British fortitude and stoicism, bombs could fall around them but, like Mr Bunting, they would still head off to work, tend to their vegetable patches and sit down for tea at five o'clock.
Mr Bunting at War is very much of its time and that is what makes this such an absorbing and very readable story. I find that there is something really special in reading a novel which was actually written during the time of the Second World War, bringing us a fascinating glimpse into a world which is now just a distant memory.
🍴Best read with... Mrs Bunting's sausage rolls , hot from the oven.
About the Author
Robert Greenwood (1897-1981) was a novelist and writer. His first novel depicted the family and working life of the eponymous Mr Bunting (1940) and his next, Mr Bunting at War (1941), continued the story in the first two years of the Second World War. Mr Bunting at War was made into a film the following year entitled Salute John Citizen (1942), which proved popular at the box office. Greenwood wrote eleven novels in total and a number of short stories, including Mr Bunting in the Promised Land (1949) which tells the story of the Bunting family in the aftermath of the war. Robert Greenwood died in 1981.
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