What did you do in the war Mum?

War Crimes For The Home by Liz Jensen

The things normal people got up to in the war. Good girl Gloria falls for a GI and learns to be bad with disastrous consequences.

Told in flashback, Gloria is now an old lady and installed in an old folks nursing home, as her son Hank thinks she has dementia or even mad cow disease.  Gloria however is not senile at all, just suppressing all the bad stuff and is preparing to die and join her friend Doris.  Her son Hank, who has grown up without a father is desperate to find out where he comes from and she is forced to confront her past.

The author serves this sad story up with large helpings of really black humour, some sick jokes, and loads of sex!  Gloria, once relieved of her virginity, was a bit of a one-woman shagging machine.  It won’t be a surprise to you to find out she gets pregnant and abandoned by her man, but I won’t say any more.

This is an extremely intelligent novel that shows, to use the words of the Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want, you get what you need.”  With the young men all away fighting, rationing, bombs and death all around, wartime brought different values to the fore – you might die tomorrow.  Contrasting against that in the contemporary strand of the story is a bit of a dig about how we treat our elderly folk.  You’re taken with Gloria all the way through all the ups and downs of life’s rollercoaster – quirky, funny, sad – a fantastic read.

I’ve previously read one of Liz Jensen’s other novels The ninth life of Louis Drax which was a super psychological thriller, again quirky and black humoured. I’ve since acquired a couple more of her books – hoping for more of the same.

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Source: Own copy. To explore further on Amazon UK, please click below:
War Crimes for the Homeby Liz Jensen, Bloomsbury paperback


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