The Real Life History Behind Joanna Quinn’s The Whalebone TheatreBy Viking Books UK
The Real Life History Behind Joanna Quinn’s The Whalebone Theatre
My novel The Whalebone Theatre follows one English family through several generations, starting in 1919 and ending in 1944. It also moves from a manor house in Dorset to wartime London to Occupied France. In order to describe these different eras and places convincingly, I read a lot of non-fiction books. These are some of my favourites.
Juliet Nicolson£10.99 £10.44
A moving depiction of the years immediately after WW1, when it became apparent that the thousands of young men who had left to fight would never be coming home. Nicolson explores how people tried to come to terms with their grief and to adjust to the social changes wrought by the conflict.
Virginia Nicholson£15.99 £15.19
This fascinating and surprisingly funny book is a portrait of England’s artistic community in the early twentieth century and a look at the free-spirited rebels who tried to throw off stifling social conventions (and the impact this had on their children!).
Sarah Helm£12.99 £12.34
The first book I read about agents in Occupied Europe and one of the most intriguing. A gripping story that traces the enigmatic woman who played a pivotal role in recruiting women for covert missions and her attempts to discover the fates of missing agents after the war was over.
Leo Marks£16.99 £16.14
Arguably the most entertaining of all WW2 memoirs. Leo Marks was twenty-two and a cocky young cryptographer when he joined the Special Operations Executive, which was sending agents into Europe. His book is a fascinating account of code-breaking, but I especially loved it for how it brings to life the people he worked with – the agents and staff of SOE aren’t just gallant heroes, they are funny, flirty, sweary, tired, flawed, cross, infuriating and heartbreakingly brave. Also has an excellent opening line: “In January 1942 I was escorted to the war by my parents in case I couldn’t find it or met with an accident on the way.”
Ronald Rosbottom£12.99 £12.34
The author says he wanted to write a ‘tactile’ history of the Occupation of Paris - to describe how it felt to live ‘in a city whose built environment changed very little but whose aura was starkly cracked’. An absorbing and memorable book that includes accounts written by both Parisians & their German occupiers.
Anne Marie Walters£15.99 £15.19
Walters was just 20 years old when she was parachuted into Occupied France in 1944 as an undercover agent and she wrote this vivid memoir immediately after the war. She is a disarmingly lively and frank narrator, and her story is one of high adventure and courage – especially in its depiction of the ordinary French people who risked their lives to help her.
Matthew Cobb£10.99 £10.44
The final chaotic days of the German occupation told in a thrilling hour-by-hour narrative that takes in everyone from the Allied soldiers closing in on the city to the Resistance fighters who were battling in the streets and the war-weary Parisians sunbathing on the banks of the Seine.