Helen Humphreys will be speaking at the Grimsby author’s series in the New Year about her newest book, The Evening Chorus so I was pleased to find a copy of her novel Coventry during my thrift store search for books for the Franklin Street Little Free Library. This novel tells the story of Harriet and is set in England during one traumatic night of bombing. The author, born in England, lives in Kingston, Ontario.
Harriet has never quite recovered from the loss of her husband in WWI and feels that she has little to lose when the second WW begins. She is alone yet during the fiercest bombing in Coventry yet finds companionship and closeness after meeting Jeremy, a young man who is seeking his mother, Maeve.
The couple find each other and discover Harriet’s home in ruins. They are unable to salvage her treasured wedding picture yet the cat and an old shell box survived. Few buildings were spared in Coventry. As Harriet passed the bombed out library, she felt that she could smell the books burning and refected that:
“maybe reading was just a way to make her feel less also, to keep her company. When you read something you are stopped, the moment is stayed. You can sometimes be there more fully than you can in your real life.”
The two continue their journey to find Maeve, stopping at a bomb shelter before finding Jeremy and Maeve’s home intact yet empty. They stay together for the night and separate in the morning, missing the note that Maeve had left sharing that she had left for the open country.
This novel is a quick read but poignantly tells the story of a terrible night of bombing and destruction. The rubble and death are contrasted with humanity and the goodness of others as they come together to help those in need. I enjoyed this novel and have The Evening Chorus on my Christmas list. I am looking forward to meeting Helen Humphreys at the January event which is part of the Grimsby Author series.
“The good thing about books is that they remain themselves. What happens on the pages stays there.”