Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Coventry: A Novel Paperback – February 22, 2010
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Humphreys's lethargic latest depicts the intertwining lives of two British women during the world wars. Harriet and Maeve meet on the streets of Coventry, England, in 1914. Both are of troubled mind: Harriet's husband has just left for the battlegrounds of France, and Maeve can't shake a deep sense of loneliness. The women share laughs on a bus ride, but afterwards their lives continue on different paths. Harriet's husband, Owen, goes missing (and is presumed killed) in action, and Harriet spends the next two decades mourning his loss. Maeve becomes pregnant out of wedlock and works a string of odd jobs to raise her son, Jeremy. In the chaos of the German bombing of Coventry in 1940, Harriet befriends Jeremy, who, at 22, stirs intense memories of Owen. Together, they search the town for Jeremy's mother and forge an intense bond. Humphreys's characters are given to poetic tendencies that occasionally yield interesting insights on the nature of loss and change, though the cast tends toward the indistinct and the narrative feels too in service of the historical record. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“Packs a tremendous emotional punch . . . adeptly depicts how the random intersection of lives can impact destiny.” (Booklist)
“Starred Review. With stark, precise poetry, Humphreys builds a palpable, almost unbearable sense of inevitability and loss that echoes both Jon Hersey’s Hiroshima and Ian McEwan’s On Chesil Beach.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
On November 14, 1940 the city suffered from a massive German Luftwaffe raid known as the Coventry Blitz. More than 800 people died and thousands were injured and left homeless, 4,000 homes were destroyed, and three-quarters of the city’s industrial plants destroyed in addition to the 14th. century Saint Michael’s Cathedral. Of the 26 medieval cathedrals in England it was the only one destroyed during the war. It was rebuild as a modern building incorporating the ruins and reopened in 1962.
“Coventry” has four main characters. Hannah and Jeremy met on the roof of the cathedral on the night of November 14, 1940, both were fire wardens. Mauve, Jeremy’s mother, met Harriet September 20, 1914, the day Harriet’s husband, Owen, had shipped out to France in World War I. He was reported missing in action within two months and Hannah never recovered. Mauve was remembered by Hannah as another person who promised to return and didn’t. Because of colour blindness Jeremy is exempt from military duty so his life is on hold. The fourth is Coventry. Humphreys presents the city as a dying entity that is capsulized in the loss of its cathedral and of its people who flood out of the city to escape the bombs. The feelings of the city are expressed through the horror, fear and great sadness felt by Jeremy and Hannah, the noise of the bombs and the brightness of the fires. And the empty skyline where the cathedral spire was earlier in the evening.
Humphreys tells a huge story of grief and destruction in a novella. It is not rushed rather an occasion of a few hours feeling like forever. The mood is set by the noise, the night darkness and the light of a full moon, a bomber’s moon. And by an out of season swallow who dances above Saint Michael’s as if giving it a final salute.
The setting, characters, history, and mood are brought together by Humphreys in a book that will stay with you:
"When you read something you are stopped, the moment
is stayed, you can sometimes be there more fully than
you can in real life."*
Five Stars. Posted review. LibraryThing
* Harriet is watching the library burn and remembering the many, many hours she spent in it reading and researching.