Requiem for a WREN
Nevil Shute Norway - 1899-1960
There were novels by Neville Shute on our bookshelves in Milwaukee, perhaps On the Beach (1957) or The Chequer Board (1947). I remember reading Trustee from the Toolroom (1960) at boarding school. It was not, however, until about 18 months ago that my trusted book referrer, PZ, put me onto this author with serious intention...and I began collecting and reading.
You can look him up in Wikipedia. He was an engineer (mostly aircraft), born in London, and served as a correspondent in WW2; on the beach at Normandy and later in Burma. In 1950 he took his family to Australia.
Shute published 24 novels. Some of them were made into memorable movies, including On the Beach and A Town Like Alice. His writing style is rich and familiar. You find yourself hearing him as from a set of easy chairs in front of a fire, telling a story that has you captivated from beginning to end. I have yet to run into a paragraph that bored or distracted.
Just now I finished Requiem for a Wren. I put WREN in caps in the title so that you can see that we are not talking birds, but the Women's Royal Naval Service.
Here are my thoughts having just put down this 1955 novel. For those of us whose parents were a part of World War Two this novel tells the heart of the story behind the story most of us did not hear from our mother or father—they mostly did not mention the war, did they? The tragedy, adventure, love, and global fallout are all here. I won't try to retell the story. If you heard little bits from your father (or mother) about their experiences in Germany, Guadalcanal or Italy here is some of the back story.
I remember watching Band of Brothers as it aired in 2001/2002. There was the reality of combat and the people who prosecuted the war effort in France and Germany. In Requiem for a Wren the focus is on a woman, Janice Prentice, who is too intimately a part of this effort. She, and the men she loved, help me understand The Greatest Generation a little better; with deepening gratitude.
NB - the photos here are of no particular individual, save that of Nevil Shute, but are included to give faces to the characters I have just been reading about, Janet Prentice and Alan Duncan.