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There's No Home Paperback – 2 Jun 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Sort of Books; Main edition (2 Jun. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0956308600
  • ISBN-13: 978-0956308603
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 162,612 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

An unqualified masterpiece ... as acute a study of the psychology of war as fiction offers us (Guardian)

Book Description

A rediscovered classic novel of World War II

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Format: 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".
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Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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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.Read more ›
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