Monday, November 13, 2006

Carrie's War - Nina Bawden

Nina Bawden's Carrie's War is probably the most famous of her books, thanks to the Carrie's War film.

Albert Sandwich, and Carrie and Nick Willow are evacuated to Wales during the Second World War. Carrie and Nick are billeted with old Mr Evans, who is a mean, cold, bullying man, and his timid mouse of a sister, Lou. Their friend Albert is luckier; he lives in Druid's Bottom with warm-hearted Hepzibah Green and the slightly strange Mister Johnny, who can talk to animals but not clearly to people. Carrie and Nick visit Albert whenever they can because Hepzibah, whom Albert tells them is a witch, makes life exciting and enticing with her stories and delicious cooking. Gradually they begin to feel more at ease in their war-time home. However, when his estranged older sister dies, Carrie gives Mr Evans a message from her, and he flies into a terrible rage. But the next day Mr Evans goes to Druid's Bottom and comes back quite calmly. Albert and Carrie suspect that he has destroyed whatever will his sister had made in favour of giving Hepzibah and Mister Johnny a home for the rest of their lives, (as she told Carrie she had done). In an attempt to save Druid's Bottom, Carrie does a terrible thing which then haunts her for thirty years until she returns to the area as an adult, and tells the story to her own children.

What intrigued me about this book, initially, is the way that Carrie's children aren't ever named. The story opens and closes with them, but they are just referred to as (for example) the oldest boy, or the youngest boy, etc. I eventually realised it's because they're only important to Carrie's tale as an audience (along with the Reader), therefore who they are doesn't really matter.


Gail Gauthier said...

Yup, I saw the TV film and have been reading about the author. Some day I'll try other of her books.

Michele said...

Keep watching this space, Gail ! I picked up three of NB's books second hand last week - and I've promised Kelly I'd write "An Introduction to Nina Bawden" column for TEotF !