These Days by Lucy Caldwell

This month’s ‘The Tasting Notes Book Club’ book is ‘These Days’ by Lucy Caldwell. This is set during the Blitz in Belfast, probably a piece of history that many of us forget when we consider the events of World War Two in the British Isles. Many of us may think of the bombings in London, possibly even stretch to Coventry – but do we remember how Northern Ireland was effected by these same events?

‘These Days’ is a well-written, slow-paced piece of historical fiction, told almost in real-time over four days of bombing in the city of Belfast in 1941. Focusing mainly on two sisters, Emma and Audrey, and their experiences, but also the experiences of some of the people that they meet along the way – as well as some of their extended family.

This is certainly a book about the characters that we meet; this is not about having some dramatic plot, but simply leading the reader to consider the stories of those who were impacted by war. But not just the struggles that war brings, also the struggles of a society that may not be as liberal and accepting as we may be used to now, or one that has expectations that not everybody wants to adhere to.

At times, this book will break your heart; at times, this book will leave you impressed by the strength of the characters, but mainly it will leave you with two incredibly strong female characters to consider and admire. You will be pondering how their story may have continued long after you have read the last line.

If you are a historical fiction fan, then I highly recommend this novel, because you will be swept away to Belfast in the 1940s – I am not sure it is quite right to say that you would like to have been there, but you would certainly like to have met the people of Belfast to congratulate them on their wartime courage.

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