I chose to read Jessica Francis Kane’s The Report after reading about it on Charlotte Reads Classics and I am incredibly glad I did; I loved this book. I have a huge interest and love of literature from and centred on the First World War, so I am surprised that I haven’t made as much effort to leap towards literature from/on/around the Second World War.
I seem to remember hearing about the Bethnal Green Tube Station incident somewhere before (perhaps on BBC Radio 4’s A Good Read programme that I can sadly no longer get on iplayer) and the novel centres on this tragedy where 173 people were crushed to death in the stairwell of a tube station shelter. This harrowing event forms the starting point of the novel and the mystery and uncertainty surrounding it is explored as the novel progresses. Kane follows the lives of a handful of characters in the aftermath of the tragedy and their personal reactions to what has happened and the part they played either in the actual tube station or in the subsequent inquiry.
Throughout the novel, I felt Kane successfully captured the mood and atmosphere of the East End during the War, particularly the attitude towards refugees, a prejudice that I feel forms the backbone of the novel. I enoyed the element of mystery and uncertainty surrounding characters and their actions; I did find this slightly predictable at times, but maybe I was looking for it, although I don’t feel this took anything away from the story and the sheer horror I felt at certain points. I sometimes feel with historical fiction, you can ‘forget’ that the author is using real life events as inspirations, but I am incredibly glad that Kane did not attempt to glamourise the reality in anyway…although I think that would have made her novel less credible and, arguably less popular.
This is a very muddled response, but I finished it several days ago and so much has happened since then, but at least I know what I mean. And I would definitely recommend this book, in fact I have already started forcing it on my Mummy and my Grandparents, oh how they must love me!