A Family At War
By Beryl Kingston
This is a story for people who want to know what it was really like to be a child during the war and in the London Blitz. But it will also interest people who can't understand how anyone would want to deliberately hurt a child or an animal, since at its centre is a closely observed character study of an abuser, cruelty, selfishness, bravery under fire, fantasy world and all.
What did I think of the book?
It was hard growing up while bombs dropped from the sky. It was even harder to do so without a mother's love.
A Family at War by Beryl Kingston is one of those books, that after reading, I found myself pausing and giving myself time to digest what I had just read. A Family at War is a heartbreakingly true story about a child who is absolutely desperate for her mother's love. But instead of love and security and everything a mother should give, Beryl is subjected to terrible emotional and physical abuse from her very mentally unstable mother. But despite that, she tries so hard to please this unpleasable woman. No matter what Beryl does, it is never good enough, and many times she is physically reprimanded for doing absolutely nothing wrong.
This book is a very honest account of her very complicated family dynamics growing up. Everyone was scared of her mother, including her father and her gran. Beryl had no one to stand up for her, and that is what really broke my heart. All I can say is thank goodness for Roy. He was a beacon of light, and I can understand why Beryl fell in love with him.
I have to talk about the writing of this book. It was sublime. I have read a fair few autobiographies, but this one is something very special. It is certainly on par with Frank McCourt's, Angela's Ashes. What I thought was amazing about the writing was how it reflected the age of the child. This is incredibly difficult to do well, but Ms Kingston nailed it. Kudos, Ms. Kingston.
Ms. Kingston grew up during the blitz, and anyone who is looking for a book that demonstrated the horror of the blitz, through the eyes of a child, will certainly take a lot away from this book.
I could go on and on about this book. It was truly wonderful.
I Highly Recommend.
Links to Purchase
About the author
I was born in 1931 in Tooting, and when I was four was enrolled at a local dancing school run by a lady called Madam Hadley, which I attended until I was eight when the war began. Because of the war my school career was – shall we say – varied. I was evacuated twice, the first time to Felpham which is near Bognor Regis and the second to Harpenden in Hertfordshire, and consequently went to ten different schools. I ended up at Streatham Secondary School, an LCC grammar run on the Dalton system, which offered a few lessons as sparking points and then required pupils to be responsible for their own learning, either in study rooms with their teachers on hand to help and advise, or on their own in the library or the school hall. It suited me to a T. Then to King’s College London, where I read English and enjoyed myself a lot, but wasn’t particularly distinguished, having other things on my mind by then...