My review today is for While the Bombs Fell which is written by Robbie Cheadle and her mother Elsie Hancy Eaton.
About While the Bombs Fell
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 review for the book November 7th 2020
Mother and daughter collaborate beautifully in this story of the war years based on Elsie Hancy Eaton’s memories of her early childhood.
As we sit in our centrally heated homes and pop to the supermarket to buy our week’s groceries with produce from all around the world, it is easy to forget that only 80 years ago it was very different for millions of people in Britain. Times were hard anyway after the great depression that hit the UK in the 1930s, followed very quickly by World War II and food rationing and restrictions on use of essential utilities.
This is a detailed snapshot of life on a small farm in Bungay in Norfolk. A place steeped in medieval history with a ruined castle now a playground for children. Apart from those evacuees seeking sanctuary from the big cities, particular Norwich, hard hit by bombing raids, there is a small community which includes four year old Elsie Hancy and her extended family of grandmothers, uncles, aunts and cousins.
Her father is a dairy farmer who supplies the town with milk seven days a week in all weathers, including on Christmas Day. Whilst the family has milk fresh each day, with food rationing in force, butter, cheese, meat and fresh fruit is scarce and feeding a large family is a huge daily challenge.
The story is told through the eyes of Elsie and she shares every aspect of daily life from building an air raid shelter in the back garden, freezing bathing routines during the winter, the farm activities that began at the crack of dawn until last thing at night, going to school for the first time and stories of grandmothers and newcomers to the town.
As children, Elsie and her brothers and sisters are very resilient as they take these tough times in their stride. There are fun times too as the children head off in the summer school break to paddle and swim in the river taking packed lunches of jam and bread. There is the delight of a hand me down doll in a pram for Christmas, and the family involvement in the making of the pudding rich with saved up dried fruit.
Added to this first hand account of this harsh time in our history, is a section containing authentic recipes used by millions to make dishes from the meagre ingredients available. Whilst they may not contain the rich and diverse produce we enjoy today, in many respects they are ingenious and also nourishing.
Definitely a recommended read.
A selection of other books by Robbie and Michael Cheadle and as Roberta Eaton Cheadle.
About Robbie Cheadle
Robbie, short for Roberta, is an author with five published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with her son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about her mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with her mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of Robbie’s children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications. Robbie has recently branched into adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential her children’s books from her adult writing, these will be published under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. Robbie has two short stories in the horror/supernatural genre included in Dark Visions, a collection of 34 short stories by 27 different authors and edited by award winning author, Dan Alatorre. These short stories are published under Robbie Cheadle.
I have been drawn to the horror and supernatural genres of books all my life. At the age of ten years old I embarked on reading Stephen King’s books including The Shining and Salem’s Lot. These books scared me so much I had to put them aside by 6P.M. in the evening in order to get a good night’s sleep but they also fascinated me. I subsequently worked my way through all of Stephen King’s earlier books as well as those of Dean R. Koontz.
I have read a large number of classics, in particular, I enjoy Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Charles Dickens and the works of the Bronte sisters.
I am hugely interested in the history of the United Kingdom as well as the mythology and tales of the paranormal that are abundant on this intriguing European island.
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you have enjoyed the review for While the Bombs Fell.. thanks Sally.