'Bomb-Blitzed' Chroniclers

Article excerpt

Love-charmed novels from the second generation of 'soldier poets.'

The Heat of the Day (1948) is widely acknowledged to be Elizabeth Bowen's masterpiece, not to mention one of the best novels written about wartime London. Bowen evokes the flimsiness of day-to-day living in blown-apart rooms in a city haunted by the dead who have been killed in the air raids the night before. Stella is a middle-aged woman whose already delicate world begins to shatter when her lover, Robert, is suspected of selling secrets to the enemy.

Rose Macaulay's The World My Wilderness (1950) is set in London's bombed-out cityscape. The protagonist is 17-year-old Barbary--a child of the war who spent her youth running wild with French Resistance fighters in France. Banished from her indolent mother's side to the cold, formal home of her father and his new wife and child, Barbary makes her home among the wilderness of the city, in the company of the other outcasts she meets. …