The Ballroom Blitz

Written by Anton Du Beke
Review by Marilyn Sherlock

Bombs are falling on London, the blackout is in full swing, and Londoners are making for the shelters as soon as the sirens sound, but life for the gentry and others with money to spend hasn’t changed too much. Large hotels in the city still hold their balls, and catering does not seem to be much affected by the rationing. People like professional dancer Raymond de Guise, home recovering from the aftereffects of Dunkirk, are doing their bit as ARP Wardens while others do what they can, on the side, operating the black market.

This story revolves around the people who work and play within the confines of the Buckingham Hotel, one of the top hotels in London. The tale is interesting as it does not concentrate on the war itself but uses it as the background to life in the city at the time. Characterisation varies from those at the bottom of the ladder to those at the top, as they engage in some activities of which I, for one, had no previous knowledge. The characters themselves are well portrayed, and I was soon swept along with all that was happening. The book should appeal to a wide selection of readers, but more especially to those not so interested in the familiar wartime dangers, as it focuses on those who operated in one way or another behind the scenes.