Jo Baker, bestselling novelist of Longbourn, is out with a breathtaking tale about a young woman haunted by grief and suspicion during the London Blitz – The Midnight News. Twenty-year-old Charlotte Richmond takes a room in the city and a job as a typist at the Ministry of Information to escape her controlling father. As sirens go off and bombs fall across the city, Charlotte grabs her gas mask and other essentials and heads to the basement kitchen to wait out the raid with her landlord, Mrs. Callaghan, while another tenant, Mr. Gibbons heads to the post to prepare to search for bodies amidst the rubble.
It’s a lonely existence, her friends are distracted by families and husbands and air raids, and her best friend, Elena, has recently been avoiding her. After the deaths of several friends, darkness envelopes her. As Charlotte walks the cratered city blocks of London on her way to work, she feels anxious. Someone is following her; she is sure of it. A menacing, dark figure looms around corners and in alleys. Is it her imagination or has she unwittingly become a target for someone or something? Is she somehow connected to the deaths? As the deaths stack up, Charlotte wonders whether she is losing her mind – the bodies, the constant fear of death, and the mysterious man all threaten her tenuous hold on sanity.
The only bright spot in Charlotte’s existence is meeting a young man who sits on a park bench feeding the birds. She feels drawn to him. Tom, too, seems to be merely existing. He has been accepted at University, but because of the bombings, classes have been cancelled. In the meantime, he helps his father at the mortuary . . . and feeds the birds.
The Midnight News is unlike any other World War II era novel I’ve read. Part love story and part mystery, I found Jo Baker’s plot intriguing, her characters engrossing, and the twist at the end of the novel masterful. A riveting story about resiliency and survival.
I highly recommend The Midnight News for fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and The Lilac Girls. This is Lin Salisbury with Superior Reviews. Listen to my interview with Jo Baker on May 25 at 7:00 pm and the 29th at 6:00 am on WTIP 90.7 Grand Marais, or stream it from the web at http://www.wtip.org.