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Coventry

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  1,071 Ratings  ·  207 Reviews
On the night of the Luftwaffe's devastating bombing of Coventry, two women traverse the city and transform their hearts.

Helen Humphreys draws on history to delve into the lives torn asunder by the German attack of November 14, 1940. Harriet, a widow from World War I, is atop Coventry Cathedral, part of the nightly watch, when first the factories and then the church itself
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ebook, 192 pages
Published February 22nd 2010 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Diane S ☔
Aug 14, 2014 Diane S ☔ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A new author for me and one in whose writing I quickly fell in love. Her sentences are so fluid, her words almost lulling, just wonderful. This provides a sharp contrast to the heartfelt descriptions of the bombing and destruction of Coventry during WWII. Can goods bursting, Windows shattering, broken glass raining down, potatoes rolling on the now crooked floor, a man shaving one minute but gone the next, people running through the streets with metal pots on their heads, and of course houses no ...more
Hannah
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

Author Helen Humphreys' novel, Coventry, primarily revolves around the night and early morning hours of November 14-15, 1940, when over 500 German Luftwaffe blitzed the entire town of Coventry, England. Over 600 residents were killed, thousands of homes and businesses were reduced to rubble, and the beautiful medieval Coventry Cathedral was turned into a shell of its formal grandeur.

Humphreys writing of the blitz of this town was strikingly, hauntingly beautiful. Y
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Shane
Aug 28, 2010 Shane rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I visited Coventry Cathedral (the newer version) back in the ‘70’s on a trip to Oxford but never took much time to understand its fiery genesis. This book was a welcome filler-in of my information gaps from the perspective of the survivors of that inferno.

The lives of the two protagonists, Harriet and Maeve, intersect at critical points during World Wars I and II in the city of Coventry. At the dawn of WWI, Harriet and Maeve meet by happenstance and enjoy a double decker bus ride together, soon
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Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
This wasn't too bad. I deducted one star because it's written in the present tense. This is history! Past tense, please.
It was interesting and saddening to learn about the bombing destruction of Coventry, but I thought Humphreys cheapened it a little by throwing in some tawdriness that could easily have been left out. Also, I felt there wasn't enough depth for such a heavy story.

Couple of good quotes:

"When a building is lost, everything that happened within its walls is lost as well."

"It was
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Carrie
This story spans both World Wars, and we get to follow the lives of two women and their losses and experiences through out.

The bulk of the story is about the Germans air raids on the town of Coventry, the author has done a wonderful job in describing the scenes taking place, the emotions, the sounds. From all this destruction and death a bond of friendship is formed.

I love books set during the war, especially WW2, as a history lover I always tend to goble them up if written well, and this one
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Jennifer
Jun 28, 2009 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2, 2009
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jackleen
May 13, 2013 Jackleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do love Helen Humphreys lovely little books. I sat for a quiet couple of hours on mothers day and read this book cover to cover. The story of Coventry is set in Coventry on November 14, 1940 during a horrific bombing raid which leveled most of the city. The entire story takes place on November 14, with the exception of the beginning in which our two main characters briefly meet in 1919, and some flash backs memories from the two main characters of their life preceding this fateful night. The r ...more
Magdelanye
November 14, 1940
A harrowing day in the life of an English town being bombed by the German airforce during the second world war, with references to the past and the future for context. The randomness and futility of war are emphasized, and the impact on lives of those who were forced to normalize its horror.
HH skillfully recreates the mood of the times and her vivid prose gives movement to those moldering black and white photos that we try to keep in the closet of our memory.
Fran
Jul 31, 2014 Fran rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a tender book about the horror and devastation of the bombing of Coventry in November 1940. The writing is spare and jewel like, about a relationship that unfolds over the course of that dreadful night. I appreciated the humanness of the three main characters and the juxtaposition of ordinariness in the midst of the bombing and destruction.
Carolyn
Jul 30, 2015 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Trisha
Apr 09, 2017 Trisha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On the night of November 14, 1940, 400 German planes dropped over 500 tons of explosives on the town of Coventry in the English midlands igniting a firestorm that left the city devastated. Code named “Moonlight Sonata” the attack occurred on a cloudless night and after 11 hours of nonstop bombing many of the city’s historic buildings, including the magnificent medieval cathedral had been reduced to rubble. Over 500 men, women and children were killed and tens of thousands of those who survived w ...more
Krista
Jul 02, 2015 Krista rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: can-con, war, 2015
“Fire!” yells the old man on the south chapel roof.

From the cathedral roof Harriet can clearly see the neighbouring spires of Christ Church and Holy Trinity Church. She can see the dark hunch of roofs and the rivering streets between them, but after that the buildings fall off into shadow. The fire appears as a small orange smudge in the distance. It seems so far away that Harriet feels more relief than worry at first, until she remembers that most of the large factories in Coventry are on the
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Felice
Feb 15, 2012 Felice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On November 14th, 1940 the city of Coventry in England suffered through horrific bombings from the German Air Force. Coventry was a big industrial area and its manufacturing included munitions. On that night 515 bombers were set from Germany to destroy Coventry’s factories. By the end of this blitz two thirds of the area’s factories were either destroyed or severely damaged, public utilities were out of commission, 2 hospitals had been destroyed, Coventry Cathedral was a ruin, over 4,000 homes w ...more
Carol
May 18, 2013 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coventry by Helen Humphreys is an almost poetic depiction of the devastation of the bombing by the Germans in WWII upon that town.

I felt very close to one of the main characters, Harriet Marsh and her reaction to her husband's death in WWI. I could understand why she felt the way that she did. The only thing that keeps this book from getting a five star rating from me is an act by Harriet that just did not did believable. I also enjoyed reading about Maeve but didn't feel close to her.
Coventry
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Joanne
Aug 13, 2016 Joanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It takes a special kind of talent to distill so much emotion into such a short book. A great deal happens in less than 200 pages.
Harriet lost her husband of two months in WWI. She never recovered completely from the loss and lived a lonely life in Coventry. When WWII happened, Coventry was one of the biggest targets in all of Britain for the Germans, being almost levelled on the night of November 14, 1940. It was during this air raid that Harriet met Jeremy, a young air warden, and later his mo
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Nikki Stafford
Nov 27, 2016 Nikki Stafford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written story about two women in Coventry the night it was bombed during WWII who have a connection going back to WWI. The detail is extraordinary, and really brings to life how horrible life was in England during the air raids in that war. It really puts things into perspective, especially with everyone saying how awful 2016 has been. Compared to 1943, it's pretty much a walk in the park. What a gorgeous book.
Doriana Bisegna
Feb 13, 2013 Doriana Bisegna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am so happy to have discovered Helen Humphreys! She is quite a talented writer and this book is excellent. Telling the story of the bombing of Coventry and how a few of its citizens fared was brilliantly recounted. I am looking forward to reading more of her books since she has a strong voice and a fine writing style. I was so taken in by this story because the characters felt so real and the descriptions of the bombing were like nothing I had ever read before.
Margerywieder
Aug 31, 2015 Margerywieder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another good one by Humphreys. Short but intense story of two women over the years, from WW1 to WW2 to 20 years beyond, mostly focused on one night during WW2 when the city of Coventry, England is destroyed. Powerful picture of the effect of war on civilians.
Linden
Mar 11, 2016 Linden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
An account of the 1940 bombing of Coventry and its effect on two women.
Kimberly
Dec 17, 2015 Kimberly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written narrative of the 1940 bombing of the city of Coventry. This book punches above its weight.
Lynda
Aug 08, 2013 Lynda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: susie-book-club
thumbs up to Joan for suggesting this book for the book club
Erin Anne
Oct 16, 2012 Erin Anne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most of it was a great read, but the ending was very weak. I thought the romantic relationship between the protagonist and J. was totally ridiculous and unnecessary.
Heather
May 05, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the evenings of November 14th and 15th, 1940, a massive bombing raid destroyed the English city of Coventry. German attack planes flew over the city dropping hundreds of bombs, decimating most of the architecture and killing roughly 600 people and wounding many more. What was left standing was barely recognizable as a once flourishing and beautiful city. In the novel Coventry, Helen Humphreys weaves this tragic time in history into the story of three people who begin that fateful evening alon ...more
belva hullp
Dec 19, 2016 belva hullp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coventry by Helen Humphreys; acquired 02/03/2015; (4*)

(I read this on my Kindle yesterday on the 4 hour drive to our niece's wedding reception.)

It is such a wonderful story and Humphreys writes so beautifully. This one is about how people's lives can touch each others' even & perhaps especially on a night such as England suffered in the Coventry blitz. This is a wonderful book. Humphreys is so good with growing her characters.
Julie
Dec 20, 2016 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2⭐s
I was bothered by the present tense at first, but it eventually drew me in, and created a sense of urgency and honesty to the horrific events of the bombing of Coventry. A good, short read, not the most effective story telling, but still compelling. It also didn't hurt that I've visited the ruins of the cathedral twice.
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Sarah Hearn
May 09, 2017 Sarah Hearn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully written story of the bombing of Coventry in 1941. Though the book is very short, the author fills its pages with vivid descriptions and clearly drawn characters.
Allison
Dec 28, 2016 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Nothing holds it's truth for long enough. Home leaves us, not the other way around, she thinks. And what are we meant to do when we come to know that?"
-- Harriet Marsh, Coventry
Darlene
Oct 17, 2008 Darlene rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Coventry is the second book of Helen Humphreys that I've read (this is also my selection for my November 2nds Challenge). The first I had read was The Lost Garden which I really enjoyed. Coventry was no different. Helen Humphreys has a way of writing that is beautiful to me no matter how difficult the subject matter may be as it is in Coventry.


Coventry is mainly focused on one night, November 14, 1940, on which occured the bombing of the British town of Coventry by the Germans. Harriet is a wid
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Christie
On November 14, 1940, Coventry, a city in England's West Midlands, was devastated by a German bombing raid that leveled two thirds of the city, including the city's cathedral, which was built in the 14th century.

This event is the backdrop of Helen Humphrey's 2008 novel, Coventry. The novel captures the horror and chaos of that night as seen through the eyes of Harriet Marsh, a 44-year-old woman who is acting as a fire-watcher on the cathedral rooftop and Maeve, an artist whose 22-year-old son, J
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Mrsgaskell
Dec 15, 2010 Mrsgaskell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bookcrossing, 9-star
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Helen Humphreys is the author of four books of poetry, five novels, and one work of creative non-fiction. She was born in Kingston-on-Thames, England, and now lives in Kingston, Ontario with her dog, Hazel.

Her first novel, Leaving Earth (1997), won the 1998 City of Toronto Book Award and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her second novel, Afterimage (2000), won the 2000 Rogers Writers
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