Tag Archives: World War II

Do we need a new genre?

mobile phone download Dec 2011 025

I’ve been spending a lot of time talking to my Nan.  She’s 95 you know?  And still going strong, even if she doesn’t think she is.  I’ve been working hard trying to get her to remember what she’s achieved in her life and and to help us youngsters to understand ours.  I’ve also been trying to get her to be more outward looking.

My Nan was born in 1918.  When she was growing up she learnt the Charleston.  She worked in a munitions factory during WWII.  She was one of the first to enjoy package holidays to Spain and Italy.  She travelled on steam trains and had siblings die in their infancy from things that today wouldn’t even warrant hospitalisation.  When young all her clothes were hand made and she spent an entire day having her hair permed.  Perhaps she should write her own book!

She reads historical fiction and things like Barbara Taylor Bradford.  But it did get me thinking.  As we are living in an ever ageing population do we need a  new genre?  We have children’s books, teen books, young adult books, coming of age books… do we have old age books?  Is there such a thing?  I’m talking about fiction here.

If there was, what would distinguish it?  What would it be about?  If I ask my Nan she’d just talk in terms of existing genres.  I don’t want to be patronising but from my experience what would make a good book for my Nan would be.. happy, uplifting, life affirming, about her generation but in a realistic way that presents old age as a valued thing where individuals value themselves, look for what they can do and act on it.  (I’m trying really hard to be positive here as I have quite strong views about the poisonous attitude to old age that we have in the UK and other western countries).

Are there any books that fall into this category?  I can only think of Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple books which have this positive attitude, but having not read any I can only attest to what I’ve seen on television.

Age UK have some great resources if you’re interested in supporting an older friend or relative.  I thought this article on Growing Old in the 21st Century was very interesting.

Is it wrong to want books to end well?

PostMistressBiblioGraph150713

Oh dear, that looks pretty damning doesn’t it?  This post isn’t just about The PostmistressSarah Blake, but it is a case in point.  I’ll add a little review at the end of this – it’s okay because I wouldn’t recommend this as a BIB (Blissfully Ignorant Book).

I’m not very proud of this but I like books that are happy; that turn out well.  Where characters get what they generally deserve, justice is seen to be done, that whole thing of “You get what you give”.  I can stand a little challenge to this, I don’t mind if books make me cry ( in fact The Postmistress did make me cry, on the bus, a little).  I don’t want syrupy saccharine sweet; where everything is unrealistically positive either.  I want books to be a bit like life and certainly about the ability of humans to bring something to the world.

G is for George smothered under a rug - Day 16...

G is for George smothered under a rug – Day 167 of Project 365 (Photo credit: purplemattfish)

Things I hate most in books

  • unnecessary killing of a character (doesn’t move the story on, just makes you miserable, especially when they had everything to live for)
  • shoddy, unthought out endings, where the questions laid out in a book are unsatisfactorily answered, or not at all (Surprisingly I find Michael Crichton falls into this category where the scientifically based plot is undermined by some almost “magic” at the end, they have a rushed feel)
  • a lack of justice because that’s what the world is like (unless it’s a true story, and this can be saved by other characters observing this)
  • an ending that is so unexpected (ironically) that you feel stupid for not seeing it coming (Life of Pi – yuck sorry, but yuck, it made me feel really stupid!)

There are plenty of books with sad themes but somehow are uplifting and mean something, they stay with you for days, weeks even years after (like The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold).  So I don’t want jolly, but I do want achieve something!

The Postmistress – short review…

Overall rating 4 for the ending, as you can see by the BiblioGraph above.

Not recommended as a BIB because once you start you know what you’ve got.

I really like the premise, the general story line and the introduction to a US attitude to WWII, the evocation of the blitz in London was fantastic, it contained loads of detail and really achieved a feeling of time and place.  So a big thumbs up for that, which is why I read to the end.  What let it down at the end was that I just didn’t understand what it was getting at, it was a bit too subtle and just fizzled out like an incendiary dropped in the Thames.

There seems to be a bit of theme here:  Am I a bit too thick for these books?