My March choice for ‘The Year in Books’, Just A Boy From Bristol by Michael Kelly, was a fascinating read. I’m not normally a big fan of memoirs, but I very much enjoyed this first-hand account of a childhood in Bristol during the Second World War.
What was clear from almost every page was just how much my adopted city has changed over the years, either as a result of bomb damage or subsequent redevelopment. So many of the street names and places mentioned were familiar, but the depictions of them weren’t – I found myself searching out old maps and photos online as I read in order to get a sense of what places used to look like. The book also brought to life the massive disruptions caused by the war, but it did so without melodrama and showed how daily routines carried on. Along with descriptions of damp air-raid shelters and skies glowing red with burning buildings were memories of family life, school football matches and childhood pranks – a very poignant combination.
Next up for me is The Shock of the Fall, the debut novel by Bristol author Nathan Filer. It’s a Costa award-winner and I’ve seen nothing but excellent reviews, so I can’t wait to get stuck in over the Easter weekend (chocolate in hand, of course!).
‘The Year in Books’ is a lovely project run by Laura of Circle of Pine Trees, with the aim of encouraging people to find time to read and share their recommendations. I’ve set myself the challenge of reading 12 months’ worth of books based in Bristol or written by Bristol authors, so if you can recommend any favourites then please do get in touch!