The iconic phrase from London’s Blitz was “Keep Calm and Carry On.” The media of the time gives us one version of life during one of the longest sustained bombing campaigns in history, of Londoners with cheerful grins giving Hitler the double fingers (usually metaphorically, because they are English) or serving up a cup of tea in an air raid shelter. The characters in Noonday, by Pat Barker, are not particularly calm and are not carrying on very well.
Noonday shifts perspective frequently, showing us artists-turned-rescuers, with brief interruptions for an obese medium. The shifts were so frequent that I’m still not sure whose story was central to the plot, such as it was. Noonday isn’t linked stories, but I can’t quite call it a novel either because there was just so much going on that that it’s disjointed and feels unfinished. In fact, I don’t think I can include my usual plot introduction as there’s not enough to say beyond the fact that we are peering into the lives of four Londoners during the Blitz. Some survive. Some don’t. No one grows much as a person. A few of the characters do very bad things, though they’re not punished much for their deeds.
I know Barker is an award-winning novelist, but all Noonday gave me was a feeling of disappointed meh.
I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley for review consideration. It will be released 8 March 2016.