The Love-Charm of Bombs: Restless Lives in the Second World War

Written by Lara Feigel
Review by Laura Shepperson

In The Love-Charm of Bombs, Lara Feigel describes the lives of five writers in and following the Second World War, writers she describes as “successors of the soldier poets of the First World War”. The writers she chooses, Elizabeth Bowen, Graham Greene, Rose Macaulay, Hilde Spiel and Henry Yorke, are all engaged on the home front, mainly in London, writing while working as ambulance drivers or fire fighters, or while trying to avoid the bombs.

Feigel is a lecturer of English and, as such, the book is heavily literature-based. This is both a strength and a weakness; while Feigel certainly knows the authors’ works in depth and summarises and contextualizes them well, it can seem as though Feigel argues that every book written by these authors is merely thinly-veiled autobiography, and the parallels are stretched in places.

This book depicts vividly the passion and surrealism of living in a war-torn city, and the advantages and disadvantages the war brought writers: independence for Bowen, Greene and Yorke; destruction of Macaulay’s home and beloved book collection; and exile from her native land for Spiel. It is a recommended read for enthusiasts of World War Two history and readers of modern literature.