A wonderfully written novel based on a true event in Bethnal Green during WWII. On March 3, 1943 173 men, women, and children died in a London tube station used as a bomb shelter and not one single bomb dropped that night.
Kane uses real interviews and reports from that tragedy to transport us to a time a majority of us never knew. The underlying terror of bombing being felt while living everyday with that English 'stiff upper lip' is conveyed well in this novel while not being daunting to the reader.
The story is told in two time frames; one during the day and days following the tragedy and then 30 years later when a surivior of the incident interviews Laurence Dunne, among other things the writer of the report on said tragedy, for a retrospective documentary film. In this way we meet different characters from different classes and learn some of the event(s) leading up to the crush in the staircase at the shelter.
The Report gives us the good and bad of human nature with a realism and sympathy that is rare in most novels. This book takes a real event and shows the reader that the worst thing a person does is not who they are.
All in all a wonderfully told story with fully fleshed out characters which conveys the feeling of hope and hopelessness of the people living with the threat and actual bombings along with all the physical and emotional carnage of its aftermath. The feeling of anger at Jewish refugees was slightly downplayed in this book, I believe, but it did not affect the story in anyway.