Books I like: A Time To Be Born

I first learned about Dawn Powell and her novel A Time To Be Born almost by accident. I was reading an introduction to Elaine Dundy’s The Dud Avocado, and the introduction’s author talked up Elaine Dundy, but saved her best words for Dundy’s American contemporary, the underrated Dawn Powell. The introduction didn’t make me all that excited to read Avocado (I think the author might have brought up chick-lit and maybe even Sex and the City, which is a pretty good way to scare me away from something).  I read a chapter or two, couldn’t get into it, kept having the whole thing play out in my head like a bad ’50s romantic comedy. So I gave up on it and went to the kindle store and bought A Time To Be Born.

Much, much better.  There’s the time period, for one thing: the early ’40s and the early days of WWII. “It was no time to worry about Vicky Haven or indeed any other young lady crossed in love,” writes Powell in the first paragraph, but that’s exactly what she goes on to do. Of course it’s not really a love story.  It’s more of a satire about life in New York during the early part of the war, when “the ominous smell of gunpowder was matched by a rising cloud of Schiaparelli’s Shocking.”

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  1. Posted July 9, 2013 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    your blog is incredibly stunning!

  2. Posted July 10, 2013 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    A book recommendation from a smart cookie is always welcome! Putting this one on the list. Thanks. : )

  3. Mariebayarea
    Posted July 11, 2013 at 5:38 am | Permalink

    You’re more of a bibliophile than even me, so I trust your book recommendation, and will check it out. Thanks!

  4. Posted July 15, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    Sounds intriguing and right up my alley…I will be sure to investigate!


  5. Posted July 23, 2013 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    I bought this book after your recommendation (I also didn’t get on with The Dud Avocado) and loved it. What a fascinating – and funny – snapshot of this period. Especially interesting for me as I’m UK based and our WWII books (understandably) have a very different emphasis.

    On finishing, I immediately went and bought another of her books – thanks so much for the recommendation.

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