First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday – Unexploded by Alison Macleod


What’s your NetGalley ‘effort level’? Until recently I made sure that I reviewed (in a timely manner) at least half of what I requested however that has slipped a little of late. I don’t want the nice people at NetGalley to stop sending things my way so I’m making a two-fold effort – request less and review more.  I have five ARCs in the TBR stack and next is Unexploded by Alison Macleod. Thought it would be a good one to share for First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday (as always, with thanks to Bibliophile by the Sea for hosting).

The story is set in 1940. Geoffrey and Evelyn Beaumont and their eight-year-old son, Philip, anxiously await news of the expected enemy landing on the beaches of Brighton.  The year brings tension and change. While Geoffrey becomes Superintendent of the enemy alien camp at the far reaches of town, Evelyn struggles to fall in with the war effort and her thoughts become tinged with a mounting, indefinable desperation.  Then she meets Otto Gottlieb, a ‘degenerate’ German-Jewish painter and prisoner in her husband’s internment camp. As Europe crumbles, Evelyn’s and Otto’s mutual distrust slowly begins to change into something else, which will shatter the structures on which her life, her family and her community rest.

It begins –

“The talk that May afternoon was of the rockfall at the undercliff. A fisherman’s dory had been buried, along with his dog, and the collapse had taken part of the sea wall with it. The news, though negligible compared with the reports from across the Channel, was repeated and wondered at in town, as if nerves of the population ran like thin fuses through the cliff-line’s strata of chalk and flint.

She stepped from the dim cave of the house-goods shop into a dazzle of sea light, and, turning left rather than right, walked briskly north up Ship Street, away from the prom where onlookers still gathered in hope of seeing another boat safely returned. The music from the empty rides on the Pier receded. She shifted the weight of purchases in her arms. At no point did she turn back to take in the spectacle on the beach, for she didn’t want to see what the man in the shop had described, the ghostly flotilla of little boats, some pocked by gunfire, listing oddly around the old carousel.”

There’s no question that novels about the Second World War are ubiquitous but this one did grab my attention, if only for the cover photograph (sitting on the beach reading doesn’t really go with barbed wire, does it?!). Should I keep reading?

23 responses

  1. I am not currently requesting books from NetGalley (or Edelweiss) because I need to catch up with my reading and reviews. 🙁

    I am drawn to WWII stories and so would definitely continue reading.

  2. This one caught my attention when I was on a WWII kick. Haven’t read it yet but eager to hear what you think of it!

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