VE Day – 75 years!

Friday 8 May marks 75 years since Victory in Europe Day, or VE Day as it’s better known. The Second World War was finally over as the (slightly modified) act of military surrender was signed on 8 May 1945 in Berlin.

As many others, there had been plans to commemorate this day with street parties, talks and activities in our libraries. But, what better way to remember all those who fought for our freedom, then by showing restraint and do our part in keeping our country safe – and stay home.
It’s a strange time, and whilst it’s not the time to celebrate with neighbours, family and friends, it’s a good time to read about the past, or share stories of why we celebrate VE Day.

Through RBdigital, our eMagazine provider, you can find this month’s issue of BBC History Magazine, which includes a VE Day special! It explores the moment of victory, told through the voices of soldiers and civilians who experienced it.

We’ve also put together a collection of amazing book titles, both fictional and non-fictional, about WWII, that you can download and read and/or listen to through the BorrowBox app – our eBook provider. Featuring such titles as Hampshire at War 1939–45, The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Paris Echo, VE Day, Why Britain is at War, The Message Bird, Hitler’s Secret and The Boy in Striped Pyjamas. You can find these, and many more, in the VE Day collection in the BorrowBox app.
Unsure how to download the app? Check out this blog!

Even with our libraries closed, we’ll still be having celebrations happening – just virtually instead of in person. So check out what’s happening at different libraries – and the best part/ It’s online, so even if it’s not your local library you can still tune in!

Over on Facebook Alton library will be celebrating VE day with have a special film review of A Royal Night Out. As well as a general piece about VE Day; what it means and how it was celebrated in Alton, including a recipe for potato scones to wear for your VE Day Virtual Tea Party’ fashion feature!

There will also be a virtual tea party, where everyone is encouraged to share pictures of our tea parties – so head over to their Facebook page to join in this Friday.

Join the staff at Aldershot Library over on their Facebook page as they do a special VE day decoration craft and share printable colouring in sheets.
For adults there will be war poetry recordings, local history link, book readings and book reviews.
Why not share your VE day tea party with them?

Leading up to Friday, you will be able to find some great VE day decoration ideas as well as ideas for creating a ‘stay at home tea-party’.

On the day, you will be able to find some lovely photos of staff’s own decorations, World War Two poetry and book reviews.

Leading up to VE Day, you will find some amazing colouring sheets available to download, all made by a member of staff. Staff will also be taking part in the #GreatBritishBuntingShare – so keep an eye out for different ways of making your own bunting!

On the day, there will be a special guest over one their Facebook page, who will talk about her real-life account of VE Day. If you have any stories to share about VE Day, personal or passed down to you, you’re welcome to share them.

For the younger audience, there will be a special reading from Goodnight Mr Tom, available as both eBook and eAudiobook through the BorrowBox app.

Join the staff of Gosport Discovery Centre over on their Facebook page for some wartime bake off, decorating, bunting making, VE Day stories and a special VE Day craft – ‘How to make a glider’.
Don’t miss the fun!

Leading up to the day, you will be able to find instructions on how to make bunting as well as how to make your windows colourful.
As well as a special VE Day hat craft and a ‘Write a coded message’ activity. Head over to their Facebook page to not miss out on the fun!

Leading up to the day you will be able to find some wonderful craft videos on their Facebook Page, on how to make bunting as well as how to make your own medals.

On the day, at 3pm, there will be a special message from all the staff; so tune in!

On Friday 8 May, Hampshire Archives will be live streaming This is Your Victory on their Facebook page from 11.30am to 12.30pm.
They will also be live streaming Working in the Shadows on their Facebook page – time to be confirmed, so check their events on the day.

And of course we will be sharing as many of these wonderful events, activities and videos over on the Hampshire Libraries Facebook page.

It may not be the VE Day celebration you expected, but with these wonderful books and range of crafts and ideas, we’re sure to all be celebrating together, despite being apart.

Requiem for a Wren by Nevil Shute

About the book

Janet Prentice is a former Wren who fell in love during the war. The death of her fiance and her hope clouds her future, even when World War II is over. Tragically, her self-destructive urges take her further towards despair.

Reviewed by Goodworth Clatford

The story pivots around the accidental killing of seven people on a plane and Janet’s atonement. Well constructed and the country descriptions were good.

Star rating ***

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A town like Alice by Nevil Shute

About the book

After the war Jean Paget comes into an inheritance that enables her to return to Malaya. Her return visit changes her life again, when she discovers that a soldier she thought had died has survived. She goes in search of him and finds romance.

Reviewed by The Accidental Book Group

A lovely book, we recommend it highly. The main characters are wonderful and the story beautifully constructed.

Star rating ****

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Winter in Madrid by C J Sansom

About the book

Part thriller, part love story, this tale follows the fortunes of three young men, navigating the tumultous world of 1940s Spain. As the Second World war begins, one is sent to spy on another and the ramifications of a tragic love story will haunt them all.

Reviewed by CC Readers

Gave fascinating insights into a complex period that is hard to analyse. Too long and some details jarred. Many felt it was contrived and various elements had echoes of many other novels. On a positive note – it created a vivid atmosphere “filmic”. Dialogue convincing.

Star rating: ***

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The Charioteer by Mary Renault

About the book

After enduring an injury at Dunkirk during World War II, Laurie Odell is sent to a rural veterans’ hospital in England to convalesce. There he befriends the young, bright Andrew, a conscientious objector serving as an orderly. Soon their friendship blooms into a discreet, chaste romance.

Reviewed by Sheet WI

Mixed reception. Some thought it rather slow and tedious yet others enjoyed the sensitivity of the writing. Very much a book of its time.

Star rating: none given

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The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

About the book

It’s January, 1946, and writer Juliet Ashton sits at her desk, vainly seeking a subject for her next book. Out of the blue, she receives a letter from one Dawsey Adams of Guernsey – by chance, he’s acquired a second hand book that once belonged to Juliet – and, spurred on by their mutual love of Charles Lamb, they begin a correspondence.

Reviewed by Page Turners

This book was highly rated by the group. We learnt a lot about the occupation of Guernsey through the members of the society and we loved the characters and the way that their incredible stories were told in a matter of fact way. The style of the book (in the form of letters) worked very well.

Star rating: ****

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The Glass Room by Simon Mawer

About the book

Cool. Balanced. Modern. The precisions of science, the wild variance of lust, the catharsis of confession and the fear of failure – these are things that happen in the Glass Room.
High on a Czechoslovak hill, the Landauer House shines as a wonder of steel and glass and onyx built specially for newlyweds Viktor and Liesel Landauer, a Jew married to a gentile. But the radiant honesty of 1930 that the house, with its unique Glass Room, seems to engender quickly tarnishes as the storm clouds of WW2 gather, and eventually the family must flee, accompanied by Viktor’s lover and her child.
But the house’s story is far from over, and as it passes from hand to hand, from Czech to Russian, both the best and the worst of the history of Eastern Europe becomes somehow embodied and perhaps emboldened within the beautiful and austere surfaces and planes so carefully designed, until events become full-circle.

Reviewed by Perspectives Reading Group:

An excellent book. A good book for a book group because there is so much to discuss. Possible to read on many levels. The plot cleverly built up tension. the characters were well drawn and interesting. Thoroughly recommended.

Star rating: ****

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Atonement by Ian McEwan

book cover

About the book

On a hot summer day in 1934, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant and Cecilia’s childhood friend. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives—together with her precocious literary gifts—brings about a crime that will change all their lives. As it follows that crime’s repercussions through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century, Atonement engages the reader on every conceivable level, with an ease and authority that mark it as a genuine masterpiece.

Reviewed by Eastleigh Library Reading Group:

Majority thought it was an excellent book although slow to start. Very descriptive and thought provoking Part 2. Satisfying Part 3 bringing things together and providing answers and outcomes of events and people.

Star rating: ***

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Gilgamesh by Joan London

About the book

Gilgamesh is the epic story of a mother’s search for the father of her child – from Australia to Armenia via England and Mesopotamia – all under the shadow of an imminent, and soon to be very real, World War II. Narrated in a clear, poetic voice, it is a portrayal of the different journeys we choose to take through life and what happens when ordinary people get caught up in extraordinary, seismic events. A bestseller in its native Australia, Gilgamesh was awarded the Age Fiction Book of the Year and shortlisted for the prestigious Miles Franklin award alongside Tim Winton and Richard Flanagan.

Reviewed by Everton Reading Group:

Held some readers in thrall. Although the story was rather improbable in places regarding the war, the plight of the main characters – Enid and Jim – was believable. We felt we should find out more about Gilgamesh.

Star rating: ***+

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If This is a Man/The Truce by Primo Levi

About the book

With the moral stamina and intellectual pose of a twentieth-century Titan, this slightly built, duitful, unassuming chemist set out systematically to remember the German hell on earth, steadfastly to think it through, and then to render it comprehensible in lucid, unpretentious prose. He was profoundly in touch with the minutest workings of the most endearing human events and with the most contempible. What has survived in Levi’s writing isn’t just his memory of the unbearable, but also, in THE PERIODIC TABLE and THE WRENCH, his delight in what made the world exquisite to him. He was himself a “magically endearing man, the most delicately forceful enchanter I’ve ever known” – PHILIP ROTH

Reviewed by Chandlers Ford Wednesday Reading Group:

Compelling read, straight forward and unemotionally told. Filled in a lot of gaps in our collective knowledge of these dreadful events.
Star rating ****+

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