Books about war

The Longest Winter, by Kevin Sullivan

Sarajevo 1992. The country is at war, with neighbour fighting neighbour, the government is powerless and the city is under siege. Terry is a British doctor who has travelled into this warzone to rescue a young boy who needs immediate evacuation for life-saving surgery in London. Brad is an American journalist, desperately trying to salvage his reputation after the disastrous ending to his last posting. Milena fled her home and her husband in Eastern Bosnia when the fighting started. She now lives and works in the besieged city, barely getting by. In the aftermath of the assassination of a government minister, these three lives become ever more entangled as the situation worsens around them. Read More »

Miss Benson’s Beetle, by Rachel Joyce

Margery Benson is a middle-aged spinster, with no living family, working a dead-end job teaching ungrateful children about domestic science in the aftermath of WWII. In a blinding moment of clarity, she quits her job and decides to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. She will journey to New Caledonia, on the other side of the world, in search of a rare golden beetle that may or may not exist.
But she cannot hope to do all of this alone. She will need an assistant for her expedition! Enid Pretty is probably the last person Margery would want accompanying her, but she is her only option. In her vibrant pink travelling suit, Enid could not be more different from dowdy and dumpy Miss Benson, and the two women do not exactly hit it off. But when faced with circumstances neither of them could have imagined, both women discover untapped strengths within themselves and a very unlikely friendship. Read More »

Small Island, by Andrea Levy

Gilbert Joseph joined the RAF during WWII, along with thousands of other Jamaicans, to fight for the “Mother Country”. Returning to England after the war, Gilbert finds a changed world and one in which his service to his mother country is not recognised or appreciated. In desperation, he turns to one of his only friends in England, Queenie Bligh. Queenie’s neighbours do not approve of her taking in Jamaican lodgers, but what else can she do? Her husband has not returned from the war, even though it has been over for three years now. She is alone in a big house and needs the money. She also has a secret, one which makes her more inclined towards being kind to coloured people than most of her neighbours.
The war may be over, but at 21 Nevern Street, London, the conflict has only just begun. Read More »

Bombs and Bougainvillea: An Expat in Jerusalem, by L. E. Decker

Linda and her family were no strangers to moving to unusual places. As expats living in places such as Dubai and Jordan, they faced a good number of obstacles and difficult situations. But one of their more challenging postings turned out to be Jerusalem. Moving your family into a very unsettled part of the world must have been a daunting task. Getting used to the checkpoints and constant military presence, whilst at the same time getting to grips with the multitude of Jewish holidays and traditions must have been exhausting. Imagine having to have an emergency exit plan in case the political situation turned bad! Read More »

Melmoth, by Sarah Perry

One winter’s night in Prague, Helen Franklin has a chance meeting with her friend Karel. But all is not right with him, he seems deranged and jumpy. It turns out that Karel has come into possession of a mysterious manuscript, which he then entrusts to Helen.
The manuscript itself is accompanied by various letters and testimonies. These stretch from 17th century England, to wartime Czechoslovakia, 1920s Turkey and Manila. Varied as they are, these accounts all have one common aspect: all tell of being followed by a tall, mysterious woman dressed all in black – Melmoth. Read More »

The Nightingale, by Kristin Hannah

In love we find out who we want to be, in war we find out who we are.
The Mauriac sisters, Viane and Isabelle could not be more different. Vianne is the eldest; responsible, quiet and family-oriented. Isabelle is outspoken, rebellious and passionate. Estranged by the death of their mother and their father’s abandonment, the two sisters will be thrown together again by the Second World War. Read More »

The Shadow King, by Maaza Mengiste

The threat of invasion looms over Ethiopia in 1935 as Mussolini masses his forces at the borders. Oblivious to all of this, recently orphaned Hirut is struggling to adapt to her new life as a maid. She will not remain sheltered for long, however, as her new employer is a general in the Emperor’s army and is mustering his men.
The women accompany the army, tasked with cooking, tending to the wounded and burying the dead. But they long to do more to help defend their homeland. As the Emperor flees the country, morale is low, but Hirut comes up with a plan to boost everyone’s fighting spirit. Little does she know that she will need all of her strength and spirit to overcome what the war has in store for her. Read More »

The Beekeeper of Aleppo, by Christy Lefteri

Nuri is a beekeeper, living and working in the Syrian city of Aleppo. He lives a happy life surrounded by family, with his wife Afra and their young son, and friends. All is well until it isn’t. As war rages and their beautiful city is destroyed around them, Nuri and Afra must make the difficult decision to leave everything behind. Once a talented artist, Afra has been blinded by the terrible things she has witnessed, not least the death of their son. Nuri and Afra leave Aleppo and journey to the UK to be reunited with Nuri’s cousin and fellow beekeeper. But their journey is long and fraught with many dangers and difficulties. As they travel through Turkey and Greece towards the UK, they must also journey towards finding each other, and themselves, again. Read More »

The Runaways, by Fatima Butto

Three young people from very different backgrounds are on the verge of making a decision that will change them and their lives forever. Anita lives in Karachi’s slums and despairs of ever escaping and making something of her life. Monty is rich, spoiled and privileged. His life is easy and carefree until he meets a girl who will change everything. Sunny is a second-generation immigrant living in the UK. He does not fit in anywhere and feels suffocated by his father’s expectations. Read More »