Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m sharing my review of Robbie Cheadle’s latest release – While the Bombs Fell. While Robbie is better known for her children’s books she co-authors with her son, Michael Cheadle, Robbie has written this book in collaboration with her mother, Elsie Eaton, to share her accounting of her childhood during World War II in Suffolk, England.
What was it like for children growing up in rural Suffolk during World War 2?
Elsie and her family live in a small double-storey cottage in Bungay, Suffolk. Every night she lies awake listening anxiously for the sound of the German bomber planes. Often they come and the air raid siren sounds signalling that the family must leave their beds and venture out to the air raid shelter in the garden.
Despite the war raging across the English channel, daily life continues with its highlights, such as Christmas and the traditional Boxing Day fox hunt, and its wary moments when Elsie learns the stories of Jack Frost and the ghostly and terrifying Black Shuck that haunts the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.
Includes some authentic World War 2 recipes.
My 4 Star Review:
This book is a collaboration between author Robbie Cheadle and her mother Elsie Eaton, as Cheadle expresses her mother’s wartime memories written through the eyes of a young Elsie.
I would say that the writing style and voice here is more geared toward a younger audience – older children as well as adults, who may want to learn what it was like in wartime for a child growing up with the uncertainty of siren warnings, sharing beds, toys and clothing with siblings, and their playtime amusements taking them through til the end of the war. We learn that the simplest of makeshift toys and something as simple as eating an orange can delight a child, keeping them oblivious to the surroundings of war.
The authors give us rich descriptions of the hardships taken on by Elsie’s father to keep the family fed, as well as the day-to-day chores Elsie’s mother performed to keep her family clean, fed, safe, and happy through the changing seasons and elements that change with the seasons. It was interesting to read and learn how the simplest of food and sparse household items were meticulously used to keep a family going through difficult times – and a good reminder about the abundance of everything we so often take for granted in our present every day living. There are bonus wartime recipes shared at the end of the book.