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A World of Other People by Steven Carroll
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A World of Other People

by Steven Carroll (Author)

Series: The Eliot Quartet (book 2)

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363586,745 (3.77)1
Set in 1941 during the Blitz, A World of Other People traces the love affair of Jim, an Australian pilot in Bomber Command, and Iris, a forthright Englishwoman finding her voice as a writer.The young couple, haunted by secrets and malign coincidence, struggles to build a future free of society's thin-lipped disapproval. The poet T.S. Eliot, with whom Iris shares firewatching duties, unwittingly seals their fate with his poem 'Little Gidding', one of the famous Four Quartets.… (more)
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Egged on by Naomi and Travellin’ Penguin after I read The Lost Life, I decided to continue onto Book 2 of Steven Carroll’s Eliot Quartet instead of reading something else. And I’m glad I did, it’s a wonderful book.
TS Eliot is both a major and a minor character in A World of Other People. His appearances are brief and he is aloof and remote – but his poem ‘Little Gidding’ (from Four Quartets) is more significant than he knows. It is a decade since the events of The Lost Life and now he is a firewatcher on the roof of Faber and Faber, where he is joined for the nightly vigil by Iris, a young woman with a boring job in the army but who also does her duty by night during the Blitz.
Duty is a key theme in the novel. Iris has been gently manipulated into becoming engaged to a young man called Frank. It’s a sign of the times: he’s a nice young man, but she’s not in love with him. She just didn’t know how to say no when he was about to report for duty and produced the ring. He wants someone to wait for him, to be his girl and to sustain him through danger. She knows that, she knows he might get killed, and she knows the situation is because of the war.
It’s the war. It’s the war doing that. It’s one of those phrases going round. And she doesn’t like it. For she is trained in language and this phrase is sloppy. There’s something wheeled out and mechanical to it. A substitute for thinking. She swears she’ll never use it again. The war may reduce her to using beetroot juice for lipstick when the occasion arises, but she is determined it will not reduce her to cliché. (p.19)
But before Iris knows it she is trapped in the cliché of the eternal triangle. In a park in Bloomsbury, she sees a young pilot sitting still like a statue, and she goes to see if he is alright. Jim is suffering from what we now call PTSD and survivor guilt, after his bomber crashed with the loss of all his crew. And though she’s initially wary of getting involved, and he thinks he is doomed never to rejoin the world of other people, they fall in love.
Carroll is much too good a writer to reduce this to a slushy wartime romance.
To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2017/11/21/a-world-of-other-people-by-steven-carroll/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Nov 21, 2017 |
A young Australian pilot has been injured as a result of crash-landing his bomber after a raid during the early stages of WW2. All of his crew died, either before or immediately after the landing, and he is knocked out and injured as the plane explodes. Sometime later he encounters a young female writer in a park in central London. What starts off as a shy encounter develops into a love affair. But can it last? Particularly, as she has given a promise to another man who has joined the British Army. And he has developed PTSD as a result of the crash and loss of his crew. Their two stories become deeply intertwined as she and T.S. Eliot witnessed his landing and Eliot wrote a poem about it. Most of the action is in the heads of the two protagonists with the occasional dialogue involving third parties. I found it difficult to warm to this story at first, particularly as it is not my preferred genre. But after sticking with it, I found the story more interesting and intriguing. I give this story 4 stars out of 5. ( )
  Bruce_McNair | Oct 13, 2017 |
Probably 2.5.

This read more like a short story than a novel - it's lyrical, tackling the big issues: love, war, literature, but I struggled to really believe in the brief love affair that's the centre of the story. ( )
  mjlivi | Feb 2, 2016 |
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Set in 1941 during the Blitz, A World of Other People traces the love affair of Jim, an Australian pilot in Bomber Command, and Iris, a forthright Englishwoman finding her voice as a writer.The young couple, haunted by secrets and malign coincidence, struggles to build a future free of society's thin-lipped disapproval. The poet T.S. Eliot, with whom Iris shares firewatching duties, unwittingly seals their fate with his poem 'Little Gidding', one of the famous Four Quartets.

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