On the night of Saturday 10th May 1941, amidst the horror of the devastation caused by enemy bombers, Joe Carey and Charlie Duggan risked their lives to save people trapped in an air-raid shelter. Despite their efforts, six men and women died.
It's now 1947 and the residents of Totterdown Street are trying to rebuild their lives. The post-war years are proving to be difficult and, already faced with a violent factory strike, the neighbours must also cope with news which not only exposes the glory of the past but the shame as well.
The Glory And The Shame is a vivid portrayal of a hard-working community struggling to rebuild their lives in the post-war era. Heartwarming and compelling, this is the story of the East End in its finest and yet darkest hour, during which most, but not all, behaved heroically.
...... Outer back cover.
FIRST SENTENCE (Prologue): More than a week had passed since the worst night of the Blitz, and on the Monday morning of the nineteenth they laid George Merry to rest.
MEMORABLE MOMENT (Page 306): .... "It must have been a fantastic sight. There were thousands of small boats like his, as well as larger craft and pleasure steamers. They all sailed from Sheerness to the Channel ports and then across to Dunkirk. Dad brought twenty soldiers back in that boat of his and he towed a lifeboat behind him which was crammed full of troops.
MY THOUGHTS: Not quite the read I was hoping for. Though the events of the evening of May 10th 1941 were hinted at it wasn't until later, much, much later in the book that all was explained, the bulk of the book concentrating instead on the men involved with the early trade union.
At 471 pages (not including the extras: recipes, about Harry, etc) The Glory And The Shame was already a fairly substantial read and as the author favoured dialogue, much of it written in the vernacular of London's East End, it seemed to be even longer.
Similar in style to many 'regional writers', Catherine Cookson, Maeve Binchy and the like come to mind, I don't know if it was simply because the story was lacking in female characters OR, veering off on a tangent as it frequently did, we never got to really know any of them (male or female) OR, unlikely but possible, if it was because it was written by a man but I felt it was totally lacking in any emotional depth.
Highly disappointed, though Harry Bowling may have a reputation for warm and authentic books, I found this sadly lacking the former.
KEEP IT OR NOT?: Ex-library stock, this shall be donated to the Church Christmas Fayre.