Jessie's Reviews > Fallen Into the Pit

Fallen Into the Pit by Ellis Peters
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Apr 03, 2016

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, library-book, mystery-british, mystery-1900-to-1950, mystery-cozy
Recommended for: Anglophiles, mystery lovers, people who enjoy reading about life during and after WWII
Read from April 01 to 03, 2016 , read count: 2+

I’ve long admired Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael series. Many years ago I read a few of her modern day mysteries and I recall reading the first and perhaps 5th inspector Felse mysteries. Recently I began rereading the series. This review contains thoughts pertaining to the entire series.

The first book takes place in rural England in 1952 while Felse is still a sergeant. It deals with issues we are still facing today, and if only for the realization of how deep the human struggle runs, is still socially relevant. The aftermath of war, what to do with returning soldiers, how to integrate them into society when the only thing they know is what we’ve taught them - how to be a cog in the machinery of war. It deals with what is today recognized as PTSD although then, as now, it was a stigma to admit the effects of wartime actions on the soul. It deals with what to do with the losers of a war, how to accept and forgive individuals. What to do with the victims and the refugees of war. How to handle our own prejudices and hatreds in the face of such horrendous trauma.

The period after the war in Europe and in Britain was not like that of the United States in the bright boom and bustle of the American economy. Rationing was still in effect through the end of the 40s. Bombed out homes and buildings were yet to be rebuilt. Orphaned evacuees were just coming of age. People were asked to accept German and Italian POWs into the workforce and their homes. Much of England was transitioning from the bucolic rural lifestyle now idealized by film and television programs like Downton Abbey and Hercule Poirot. The reality of daily life at that time, in the aftermath of such a horrific war and in the midst of such vast change is something of which Americans know very little. I feel as though Peters is sorrowful as she records and documents these changes in English life.

This is a very cerebral series in many ways. There is lot of inner dialogue, introspection, and exploration of the thoughts of characters against a wider societal scope. But it is imminently readable. Some of my favorite passages concern George's reflections on the growth and maturation of Dominic against the prospect of his own aging.

The main characters are Police Sergeant George Felse, his wife Bunty, and his precocious son Dominic, who is 13 years old at the start of the first book. There are no red herrings in this, or indeed any, of the stories. Everything matters.

Last read October 15-18, 2011
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