Margaret Campbell, writer of prize winning poetry and short stories
Reading Bombweed took me back to my childhood, the love, fears, partings, the families living through war and its repercussions. To Australians, England was ‘Home’, and Vivienne’s story is the story we learned and then later partially experienced when our shores were attacked. Our boys fought overseas, many never returning, and the women at home lived through the loneliness, loss, friendships and sibling rivalry Gillian records so well.This is a beautifully written book. The reader is drawn into the time and place, seeing, hearing through description and dialogue, and feeling the emotions of the characters so well portrayed. I was there from beginning to end and reluctantly read the final page. Women are often ignored in stories of war. Bombweed helps to fill that gap.
A fantastic window onto life on the “Home Front”, interwoven with love, loss and lies.
5 stars Simply Brilliant
I thought this book brilliant, which came as a surprise to me because, judging it by the cover, I wasn’t expecting much. It was a gift, otherwise, I would never have read it. I’m so glad I did.
The story focuses on three sisters caught up in the Second World War, and is seen through the eyes of Viv, the youngest of the three. As the years go by, from 1938 to 1946, we see how the conflgration impacts on their lives. there are descriptions of the usual things, rationing, shortagies, black market, bombs and doodlebugs, but there is a freshness to it. The characters are beautifully drawn in detail and they emerge as different people, well, most of them do, at the end of the story than the ones they were at the beginning. Fascinating.
I couldn’t put this book down, caring about the family at the heart of the story from the beginning, and wanting to know how they would fare in this uncompromising and realistic account of how the war affects three very different sisters and their immediate family and friends. Written by a woman who had lived through it, and edited by her daughters, it is a moving and memorable read, highly recommended for anyone interested in the social history of that era.
I could not put this book down. Bombweed (or fireweed) grows where fire has been – life beginning again after loss. Three young sisters face war and loss. The war changes them and they begin life again. Each one deals with loss differently bringing about rivalry and strain between the sisters.
An arresting novel, so true to life, this book far surpasses my expectations; it is a story of life during the 2nd world war for a family in the Portsmouth area, badly affected by bombing and loss of life. Vivienne and her sisters go out into the world, dealing with war time conditions in their different ways. It is told in a clear and true voice and is a great read.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters were well crafted and real and it was a difficult book to put down. I was sad when I reached the end. I wish there was more to come.
War Memories 12 February 2019
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I greatly enjoyed this book. Though it may not have the ferocity and polished prose style of, say, Kate Atkinson’s two novels which prominently feature everyday experiences of the Second World War (Life After Life, A God in Ruins) it does have a directness and authenticity born of its origins in Margaret Smith’s original ms. Gillian Fernandez Morton, aided and abetted by her sister, has taken their mother’s text and shaped it for a modern audience. Nevertheless, the voice that comes through to the reader is indeed the voice of someone who lived through the fearsome challenges posed by constant air raids, the deaths of those both close and remote, and the painful separation of children from parents, lovers from lovers, and wives from husbands. In the end, and as well as being a vivid evocation of families in war, Bombweed became for me a meditation on memory and forgetting, and the need for both. When the lovely rosebay willowherb flowers again in my garden this summer – not a bombsite, I hasten to add, but a wooded area devastated by storm damage – I shall think fondly of Little Viv and her sisters, and remember the remarkable courage of those who lived through the war. Azul.
The storyline is so well written that you are almost there with the characters. Standing in line trying to get food that is available. Looking forward to getting your ration booklet so you could maybe get the necessary items you needed. Unless they ran out. I enjoyed this book immensely. I know that if you read it you will get as much enjoyment as I did.
I absolutely loved this! 3 sisters struggle with war and loss. Well written and easy to feel for the characters.
I have been reading “Bombweed” over the last couple of weeks and have found it spell binding. It has a hypnotic pull to it as for me, it reminds me so much of my mother’s war stories when she was evacuated with the BBC to Evesham. I can see that the partying and boozing that underpinned her stories was played down, but she couldn’t resist telling us about the Russian boyfriend who showed her the edible mushrooms in Epping forest, or the man who invented Muffin the Mule ? Jan Bussell? and their “friendship”, and the parties with her beautiful cousin who was one of those gels (!) who pushed battleships over a huge map of the Atlantic for the Admirals of the Fleet!
I found it an absolute page-turner! I was born in 1946 in Portsmouth, where I lived till I was 13, so bombsites and weeds were part of my childhood. My father was in the navy all his working life so talk of WWII was very familiar.What I particularly found so interesting and indeed moving in the book was all the details of what life was REALLY like for my parents and their generation – the fear, the deprivation, the losses, the anguish, the ways in which people found to cope. The book brought this home so vividly.
Well I got hold of the novel and have finished it in quick time (for me) because it was really good! What an achievement Gill. I enjoyed it very much and found it gave a rare insight into the life of the time, attitudes and the reality of young women’s lives above all. It held its reality and compelled me to keep reading.