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Coventry Paperback – 30 Jul 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: MAIA BOOKS (30 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904559379
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904559375
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 914,631 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Starred Review. With stark, precise poetry, Humphreys builds a palpable, almost unbearable sense of inevitability and loss that echoes both John Hersey's Hiroshima and Ian McEwan's On Chesil Beach." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Helen Humphreys, a poet and novelist, is the author of The Lost Garden, Afterimage, Leaving Earth, and Coventry. She lives in Kingston, Ontario. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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By Lincs Reader TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
Helen Humphreys uses powerful, yet simple language to relate the events of the night of November 14 1940 as Coventry is beseiged by bombs.

Harriet is on fire watch duty, as a favour to her neighbour - she was widowed during the first months of the last war. During the long and eventful night Harriet meets Jeremy, a young man recently moved to Coventry. Through flash backs to events over 20 years ago, the reader soon realises that Harriet and Jeremy have a link. Their link is Maeve; Jeremy's mother who Harriet met years ago and spent just a couple of hours with and has not seen since.

Helen Humphrey writes beautifully, her sparse prose really brings the terrible events of the night alive and her characterisation of Harriet, Maeve and Jeremy is excellent.

Although only a short novel, this is a vivid and sometimes breathtaking read. Not just about the horrors and loss caused by war, but about lost loves, rememberance, family and friends relationships and at times, desperation.

'Coventry' has been compared to Ian McEwan's 'On Chesil Beach' - I think it is a far better story with believeable characters and a writing style that pulls the reader in from page one.
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Format: Paperback
As a Coventrian, albeit one born a year after the blitz of 14/15 November 1940, I was intrigued to discover how the events of that dreadful night might be translated into a novel. Helen Humphreys is a Canadian and she does make some factual errors - such as suggesting that the hedge-girt fields about the city are surrounded by stone walls - but at the more important emotional level Humphreys' work is faultless. You feel the terror and smell the destruction through which two women, close to but not overwhelmed by despair, hold humanity together. I was especially moved by the conclusion set agaist the background of the consecration of the new cathedral but it would be wrong to suggest that this is simply a novelised account of what took place in a Midland city seventy years ago. It could as easily have been set in Baghdad. Its theme is Man's inhumanity to Man and the doggedness of the human spirit.
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Format: Paperback
"Coventry" is a poetic novel that revisits one of the most significant events of World War II; the night of November 14, 1940, when German planes bombed and smashed the British industrial midlands city of Coventry to a moonscape, causing great civilian casualties, and destroying, among other important buildings, its famous medieval cathedral, at the heart of the city, of which it had been so proud. This bombing, amply covered in the media of the time, set off strong shockwaves in America, as well as other countries, and certainly helped encourage the United States to follow Great Britain into war with Germany and the other Axis powers. It was also thought for many years that this bombing, and the carpet bombing of London, enraged the famous, widely esteemed British Prime Minister at the time, Winston Churchill, so greatly that he forgot his wiser bombing strategy of going for German industrial sites in favor of inflicting more civilian damage in revenge. However, as British World War II files have been opened to historians, it has been shown that Churchill changed his bombing strategy more to infuriate the Germans, and actually to motivate them to inflict more civilian damage, in order to distract them from his nascent, critically important radar network, without which the war could not be won. See:British Strategic Bombing Policy Through 1940: Politics, Attitudes and the Formation of a Lasting Pattern (Studies in British history).

At any rate, Helen Humphreys, the author of this book, does not touch upon this question of British air strategy, though she has evidently done a great deal of research on the subject of the bombing.
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Format: Hardcover
For those of you who know Coventry well or for those who have never been to this West Midlands city, this book is well worth a read. I have lived in Coventry for two and a half years and have grown close to the city, its people and their shared history. Helen Humphreys brings to life one of the most heart wrenching times for Coventry and those who lived and died there. Many may not appreciate the importance of the city and its factories during the Second World War. On November 14th 1940 the city experienced some of the worst devastation in England and certainly the civilian casualties were amongst the highest witnessed that year. Ms Humphreys illustrates the pathos of this event through three witnesses who experience both the threat of death and loss in such a vivid array of human emotion and reaction that you feel as though you are there with them. When I first arrived in Coventry I visited the Cathedral and saw the cross of wood and the words 'father forgive'. Although I am two generations away from the tragedies that occurred I could not help the feelings of sadness that swept over me as I stood looking up at where the roof had been into an empty sky. The hardest part to consider is that the British government knew that Coventry was to be targeted but could not assist without giving away the fact that they had broken the enemies code. Coventry, in other words, was sacrificed for the greater good. I applaud Ms Humphreys efforts. I believe that she captures the essence of the tragedy Coventry experienced and the courage witnessed there. I encourage everyone to read this book, you will not be disappointed.
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