The Heat of the Day (1948)
by Elizabeth Bowen
The Heat of the Day (1948) is widely acknowledged to be Elizabeth Bowen’s masterpiece, not to mention one of the best novels written about wartime London. Bowen evokes the flimsiness of day-to-day living in blown-apart rooms in a city haunted by the dead who have been killed in the air raids the night before. Stella is a middle-aged woman whose already delicate world begins to shatter when her lover, Robert, is suspected of selling secrets to the enemy.
The World My Wilderness (1950)
Rose Macaulay’s The World My Wilderness (1950) is set in London’s bombed-out cityscape. The protagonist is 17-year-old Barbary—a child of the war who spent her youth running wild with French Resistance fighters in France. Banished from her indolent mother’s side to the cold, formal home of her father and his new wife and child, Barbary makes her home among the wilderness of the city, in the company of the other outcasts she meets.
by Henry Green
The drama of Henry Green’s Caught (1943) unfolds around a London fire station. At the outbreak of war, Roe volunteers for the Auxiliary Fire Service, where he’s trained under Pye. A strange event from the past links these men: Pye’s troubled sister once abducted Roe’s son Christopher, keeping him captive in her room until Pye came to the child’s rescue. As Londoners wait for the bombs to fall, the awkward relationship between the two men reaches fever pitch.
The End of the Affair (1951)
by Graham Greene
One of the most devastating novels ever written, Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair (1951) is the tale a middle-aged writer, Maurice, and his relationship with Sarah, the wife of a mild-mannered civil servant. The two embark on an intense love affair until Maurice is nearly killed after a bomb blasts his flat while the two are making love. Sarah ends the liaison without explanation, and the novel begins 18 months after, a bitter Maurice desperate for answers.