It seems we’re all fascinated by World War II, readers and writers alike. As I discovered when I was planning my wartime novel, The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom, there are endless stories to be told, of optimism and despair, of love and betrayal, of confusion and of joy.
The novels I’ve picked here mainly look at the impact of World War II on civilians. Some have the backdrops you’d expect: Nazi-occupied France, London in the blitz. Others have less familiar settings—Greece, Romania, Spain—demonstrating how far and how deep the devastations of war spread across Europe.
I’ve included several books by authors who lived through—or died in—World War II. Many of us can draw on research and imagination to write wartime novels, but I think it takes a particular kind of courage to relive your own experiences of such traumatic years. As the generation that remembers World War II begins to disappear, it seems more important than ever not to lose those authentic voices.
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