Customer Reviews


9 Reviews
5 star:
 (5)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 
Most Helpful First | Newest First

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and Life in a Lull in the Battle, 15 July 2011
This review is from: There's No Home (Paperback)
THERE'S NO HOME by Alexander Baron
Pan Books: 1960
189 Pages

THERE'S NO HOME is a wonderful, complex, very human novel about a lull in the battle for Sicily. The protagonists are a company of British infantry who settle themselves in a small street full of Italian women, whose husbands are away at the war. The soldiers throw themselves into this domestic, womanly world which they have missed for so long. Some of them make mistakes, some of them use the women, some of them grow up. The focus is on Sergeant Craddock, a tough veteran, who finds love with the beautiful Graziella.

As in his other two war books - FROM THE CITY, FROM THE PLOUGH and THE HUMAN KIND - this is a simple story, told without artifice and motivated by personal experience. Throughout the story is unsensational, warm and knowing. The fundamental decency of the British soldiers, the extraordinary circumstances created by war and the effect of war on men's lives are strongly and sensitively conveyed. Baron's study of men of war at peace is not only compelling but, like all the best books, also deeply affecting and containing recognisable truths. I found Alexander Baron's war trilogy through the historian Sean Longden, read them all, and consider them to be the pinnacle of the British literary response to the Second World War.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Love Among the Ruins, 13 Jun. 2011
This review is from: There's No Home (Paperback)
If Evelyn Waugh's 'Sword of Honour' trilogy is the officer's story of the Second World War, then perhaps Alexander Baron's 'There's No Home' is the NCO's. It was originally published in 1949, the second of the author's three Second World War novels (the others are 'From the City, From the Plough' and 'The Human Kind' - which was made into a highly-regarded movie, `The Victors'). It treats of "the dream time between battles" spent by a company of British infantry in the Sicilian town of Catania in the summer of 1943, during the Second World War.
There is a hint of Captain Corelli's Mandolin about it - the sun is hot, the food scarce but appetising, there is a similar sensuality - but it is closer to home, more familiar. It describes relations between the soldiers and the (mostly) women of the street in which they find themselves billeted. In particular it tells the story of Sergeant Craddock, not long married to a woman he hardly knows, and his relationship with Graziella, a passionate wife of an Italian soldier gone missing while fighting in North Africa. Craddock is a deeply sympathetic character, considerate of his men but never soft, intelligent (he has learned Italian while fighting in Sicily) and tender but never untruthful to his lover.
If ever there was a story to justify adultery this is it. There is in the tale of Craddock and Graziella the innocence of true, brief love, and while the inevitable end is sad, its sweetness depends upon that sadness. It is a kumquat of an affair. Graziella first resists the Sergeant's advances before giving herself wholly. Craddock resents the intrusion of his wife's humdrum letters into the "sealed, timeless life" he is leading in Sicily, but with the resentment comes a "sense of guilt". But it is only a sense, because `home' has been killed "on the parched white plains where so many men had died. The heat had killed it; the stink had killed it; the noise had killed it." It is as though the entire world exists within this one street in which most of the action takes place. (Later on, another soldier, about to be court-martialled, says: "The battalion, well, I mean, it's like your home, isn't it?"). Baron describes a world out of time, in which the immoralities of war far outshadow the infidelities of love.
Baron was born Joseph Bernstein, and grew up in the Jewish East End of London. He was an organiser of the so-called `Labour League of Youth', a communist front organisation, with which he finally fell out, appalled at what he regarded as unnecessary deception, not to mention the Soviet-Nazi pact. His book is free of ideological drag, while always sympathetic to the lot of the common soldiers and the lonely women. He was a much better writer than he was a communist. While the Captain of the unit is monstrous in his treatment of a very young local woman, he is also good to those in his command. He is irked by the OFFICERS ONLY signs that get put up outside restaurants by new arrivals preaching `discipline' with no experience of war ("provosts, staff officers, middle-aged martinets of every kind"). Baron's characters are recognisably, complexly, human, never ciphers.
While Waugh's war is full of moral dilemma and metaphysics, Baron's is practical: soldiers fight and women wail. His characters seem more the victims of fate than of system. Their end is inevitable, sad and true, but there is the lingering knowledge that love has been made in the midst of making war.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 'A lull in the war', 13 Jun. 2011
This review is from: There's No Home (Paperback)
A hugely compassionate account - based in part on the author's own WW2 experience - of the relationships which develop between British soldiers who have just pushed the Germans out of Siciliy and the women of the town of Catania. The story is told as much from the women's point of view as of the officers and men. It is, as Baron says, a story not of conflict, but of the brief flowering of the human spirit in lulls in the fighting.

Baron is finding a new readership both for his war novels (above all 'From the City From the Plough') and his novels of post-war London ('The Lowlife', 'Rosie Hogarth'). This is among his best writing - among the best accounts of humanity amid war. And this edition is splendid - including a photograph found in Baron's papers after his death of the Sicilian woman who may well be the model for one of the main characters.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Best of Baron, 18 Nov. 2012
By 
Edouard D. F. Gollop (Surbiton, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: There's No Home (Paperback)
Having been a long time admirer of ' From the City, From the Plough ' and more recently ' The Human Kind ', I have been struck by Alexander Baron's sense of realism, his unsentimentality and his humour, when portraying ordinary men caught up in the appalling horror of WW2. He has an amazing ability to contrast the humanity shown by his comrades with the central purpose of armed conflict, the fact that these novels are semi autobiographical lends weight to this. This of course is not to ignore the savagery detailed in parts of these books. The follow up novel - ' There's No Home ' is, as one reviewer put it, a revelation. It is a war novel, based in Sicily, but with no actual fighting. It is a book ostensibly about women - Catania women - living largely apart from their male counterparts. According to John L. Williams, who penned the afterword, the novel has it's roots in Baron's reading of Friedrich Engels in 1940. The women in the novel are not the more economically advanced and independent women of parts of Britain, who emerged during WW2., as per the needs of production, but the women of a very patriachal and depressed area of Italy. Their extraordinary strength is derived from a powerful sense of domesticity, the only avenue open to them. ' There's No Home ' describes how many of the British soldiers of this infantry battalion, on a rest period for two months, are adopted by some of the women of Catania. Both the the soldiers and the women seek solace in each other and endeavour to compensate and even replace what they have temporarily or permanently lost. Baron in a letter to his father at the time refers to his being adopted by Catanians. Underlying all is the deep sense of loss of domestic stability and a desperate desire to return to it to find some peace.
However, this is not a book written by a pacifist, the men of the battalion know that this situation is only temporary and accept that they are shortly going to move out to take part in the invasion of mainland Italy. This leads to a heartbreaking but inevitable conclusion.
I do not know whether the theme of this book is unique, I am sure that it is not, but it is highly original. The refusal of Baron to moralize about his characters, instead to accept that people everywhere really are very similar in their physical an emotional needs and to view them with a gentle sense of humour, is the strength of this very fine novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A different perspective, 7 Nov. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: There's No Home (Kindle Edition)
Quite different to other books about the war, and an enjoyable read. To see the perspective from the local women & families was interesting.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars there no home, 29 Dec. 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: There's No Home (Kindle Edition)
a very good story and well written i would be looking to read more by the same author some time .
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking, 17 Oct. 2011
This review is from: There's No Home (Paperback)
I heard this book discussed on Radio 4 somewhere. I'm glad I read it. It speaks about relationships in a strange hiatus, under extreme stress- the most extreme. It doesn't have much about the participants' inner life, which means one is free to muse on them. It also makes it more realistic. It reminded me of the film Mediterraneo. And the poignant one about Christmas day on the frontline in WWI when everyone laid down their arms for the day.

It's easy to read. Unlike some, I didn't have to reread sentences to make sense of them. I suppose its style is appropriate to the subject matter.

It illuminates something different that happened in the war, and that says something about how people relate to each other.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A must read war story, 28 Nov. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: There's No Home (Paperback)
This book was a bargain. I could not believe that it had never been read! Alexander Baron is a superb writer whose descriptive prose is sublime in its accuracy. I discovered him whilst researching my ancestry!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars I love it, 9 Sept. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: There's No Home (Paperback)
Beautifully written; humane and deeply moving. A great book about the effects of war on normal people.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

There's No Home
There's No Home by Alexander Baron (Paperback - 2 Jun. 2011)
£7.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews