Monday, 11 April 2016

The Report by Jessica Francis Kane

On a March night in 1943, on the steps of a London Tube station, 173 people die in a crowd seeking shelter from what seemed to be another air raid. When the devastated neighborhood demands an inquiry, the job falls to magistrate Laurence Dunne.

In this beautifully crafted novel, Jessica Francis Kane paints a vivid portrait of London at war. As Dunne investigates, he finds the truth to be precarious, even damaging. When he is forced to reflect on his report several decades later, he must consider whether the course he chose was the right one. The Report is a provocative commentary on the way all tragedies are remembered and endured.

Being a Bethnal Green girl myself I was very interested to read this book as I was completely unaware of this tragedy when I was growing up there. Maybe that was due to the egocentricity of youth but I am fairly sure that I never heard anyone speaking of it. 

Also, the government of the day wanted this huge civilian disaster kept quiet for reasons of their own and this is certainly the first fictionalised account of the catastrophic events on 3rd March 1943 that I have come across. Ms Kane has done well to highlight this event and written about it so sensitively.

Her writing style is sparse and to the point which makes this a compelling read. It is a dark tale that creates real emotion in the reader as we learn  about the experience of the survivors of this devastating accident.

What I really liked about this book is the humanity which the author portrays through the characters. Whilst the government were looking for somewhere to pin the blame for the accident the author demonstrates how multi layered and complicated the disastrous events really were.

This is well worth reading and I think anyone who enjoys historical books will enjoy this.

ISBN:  978-1846272806

Publisher: Portobello Books

About the Author

Jessica Francis Kane is the author of The Report, a finalist for the 2010 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from the Center for Fiction and a Barnes & Noble "Discover" pick. She is also the author of the story collection Bending Heaven which was published in the US and the UK. Her stories have been broadcast on BBC radio and have appeared in many publications, including Granta,Virginia Quarterly Review, McSweeney’s, The Missouri Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review.Her essays and humor pieces have appeared in SalonMcSweeney’s Internet Tendency andThe Morning News, where she is a contributing writer. She lives in New York with her husband and their two children.

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