Edith's War


Author: Andrew Smith

Published: 2010

Genre: Fiction

About Edith's War: In 1940, Edith Maguire moves in with her mother-in-law, next door to an Italian family. In 2002, Edith's sons await her arrival in Venice.

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Review of Edith's War

In 1940, Edith Maguire, a young British woman, is newly married and pregnant. When her husband goes off to fight in WWII, she moves in with her mother-in-law in a small village near Liverpool. The Baccanellos live next door and the two families spend a lot of time together, sharing food and friendship to help them get through the war. But then one day policemen arrive and take the Baccanello men away.

"Paolo and Domenico were born in this country, for God's sake! How could they arrest them?" Anna groaned. She covered her eyes with the palms of her hands and doubled over at the waist. Mrs. Maguire went to her side and pulled her gently upright again. For a few long minutes, they stood motionless — Anna wringing her hands, Mrs. Maguire with an arm around her shoulder, Isobel gazing at the open gate. Edith felt the heat of the sun on her shoulders. In the distance, they could hear the noise of an automobile, perhaps the police van, changing gears as it ground up the steep hill to Shrimpley village.

"Our only crime is our Italian roots," Anna eventually said, droppng her hands to her side.

...from pages 48-49

In 2002, Will and Shamus Maguire await the arrival of their mother in Venice.

This was partly a love story, partly a war on the homefront story, and partly a family story. A note at the beginning of the book said, "This is a work of fiction based on actual events, only the characters are imagined." That was good to know in advance because there were several things that I didn't remember from history classes. Maybe I wasn't paying enough attention back then.

The chapters set during the war shared a good amount of information on the difficulties faced by those on the homefront: the rationing, the prejudice, the bombing, the misinformation. I learned that Italian men in Britain were sent to internment camps and that some of them were even shipped out of the country. I also learned about the Arandora Star and about the measures taken to reduce the bombing of Liverpool. I found that last item particularly fascinating.

Edith was a believable character. Although she was a little naive, her actions during the war were understandable. I didn't care much for Will and Shamus. They were a little too whiny for me and I couldn't connect with them. But I did like the technique of using their memories to show what happened to Edith after her part of the story ended.

I thought Smith did a good job of showing what life was like during the war. I enjoyed the historical aspects more than the relationships but I'm sure the opposite would be true for others.

Reviewed by Lynn Bornath on 27 July 2010 from the trade paperback edition courtesy of No Spin PR and the author.

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More Reviews

Lori, She Treads Softly, 24 June 2010
"If you like a more serious, realistic look at internment during WWII, and appreciate an exploration of family dynamics, read Edith's War. Highly Recommended."
Jeanne, Bookdiscovery, 6 July 2010
"Her story is alive with her struggle to survive and to make sense of a world that has become senseless."


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Added 30 July 2010.
Updated 23 August 2013.