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After the Bombing

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  163 ratings  ·  34 reviews
On the night of May 3rd, 1942, 15-year-old Alma Braithwaite and her fellow boarders at Goldwyn's school huddle in an air-raid shelter as bombs rain down on Exeter in one of the Baedeker raids. By the time the girls emerge, half the school is in ruins and the city centre has been destroyed. 21 years on, Alma lives alone in the family house and teaches music at her old ...more
Unknown Binding, 368 pages
Published January 22nd 2015 by Not Avail (first published March 27th 2014)
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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Mar 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We first meet Alma Briathwaite as a boarder at Goldwyn’s School in Exeter, 1942. Hitler has referred to a Baedeker Guide to Great Britain, in order to choose locations for retaliation bombings, and Exeter is one of the places chosen. On the night of 4th May, 1942, Alma is woken by sirens and, later, her boarding house takes a direct hit. Meanwhile, Exeter is under attack and she finds her entire life changed overnight – the familiar and the loved taken from her. Alma and three of her school ...more
Lynda Bowler
Not the best Clare Morrall book I've read. I was interested in the subject matter as I live in Exeter and went to The Maynard School I in the 60s. I found the storyline flaky, and the characters rather irritating.
Carolyn Mck
Initially I found this story rather bland - a strange thing to say about a book that starts with boarding school girls taking refuge in an air-raid shelter during the bombing of Exeter in 1942. The characters seemed one-dimensional, the descriptions of their reactions to the bombing rather shallow and the writing style generally unexceptional.

I'm sure I judged the book more harshly than I would have had I not just finished an Anne Enright novel that was a 5 star read for me. This seemed very
Dec 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really got drawn into this book, with its jumps between 1942 and 1963 - having spent so much time studying the Second World War/ordinary people that seemed to ring true - the emotions of everyday - and essentially the PTSD. There were a few things at the end of the book I would liked to have known more about but maybe then I would have complained that it was all too neat and tidy. Leaves questions about whether we need to stick to the life plans we think we should ...
Kate Wilson
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a strange sort of pleasure gained from reading a book which is set in a place you know well, and this is part of what attracted me to Clare Morrall's latest novel.

Split between the Second World War and in the 1960s, the novel tells the story of Alma Braithwaite, a young student attending school in Exeter during the bombing in 1942. Following the destruction of parts of the school, a group of girls are sent to stay at one of the University Halls with young male students. What follows is
Kirsty Darbyshire
Apr 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
This is the sort of book I race through and then wish I'd taken a bit more time to savour it. I've liked all Clare Morrall's previous books and this was no exception. It switches between 1942, in the aftermath of the bombing of Exeter with the story centred on a girl's boarding school (though it's not in any way a "girl's boarding school story"), and then back to the same place in 1963. Only a couple of characters from the earlier story appear in the later one, and putting all the pieces ...more
Girl with her Head in a Book
For my full review:

In March 1942, the German medieval city of Lubeck was bombed by the RAF. Around two months later, the Nazis bombed five cities which were deemed to be the most beautiful and culturally significant. The Baedeker tourist guide was used as a reference and places with three or more stars got hit. Exeter was among them andAfter the Bombingdetails the immediate aftermath of the attack before flashing forward twenty years to consider the long
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britain, c21st, war
After the Bombing is a deceptive novel. At first I thought I was a bit disappointed by it. I picked it up at the library because the author’s name was familiar to me: Clare Morrall’s Astonishing Splashes of Colour was shortlisted for the Booker (in 2003) and I remembered liking it very much. But while I enjoyed After the Bombing enough for bedtime reading, it seemed to be ‘just a story’, if you know what I mean. But as that story percolated in my mind over the next day or so, I began to see more ...more
May 14, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I've read that looked at the consequences (psychological) that would have come to someone after the bombing during WW2. I feel like the potential for an amazing story was there but it didn't really go anywhere and I was extremely disappointed with the ending. There was no resolution between characters and it just abruptly stopped.
Dec 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Read this in one day via audio book but ending was not good and found the dates confusing at first but I did enjoy it
Julian Gilder
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1st-world-war, war, drama
This is the first book that I have read by this author. I really enjoyed it and will definitely be on the look out for her other work. A good read....
Jackie Law
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After the Bombing, by Clare Morrall, tells the stories of two significant time periods in the life of Alma Braithwaite. At the height of the Second World War Alma is a boarder at a girls’ school on the edge of Exeter when it is bombed. This and subsequent events linked to the war have a profound effect on the fifteen year old. Along with so many others she must deal with death, destruction, upheaval and personal loss. Despite the trauma she finds comfort in friendship, music and a burgeoning ...more
Sandra Danby
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
As any regular reader of my blog will know, I am a huge Clare Morrall fan. And I was not disappointed by After the Bombing. As with all Morrall’s novels, the observations of character are spot-on and so poignant. She peoples her novels with characters who feel real.
Twin story strands tell the story of Alma Braithwaite, before and after the bombing of her school near Exeter in May 1942, and in 1963 in a modern world which has moved on from the war. But Alma still remembers. “She’s conscious of
Mar 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read and enjoyed four of Claire Morrall’s previous novels so I think it’s fair to say I’m a fan! I’ve read enough books (both diamonds and duds) to discover what I like and if I feel the urge for something understated yet thought-provoking, I know that Ms Morrall’s writing will tick all the boxes.

Morrall’s characters are rarely happy-go-lucky souls and young Music teacher, Alma Braithwaite, is no exception. Having experienced severe personal loss during Hitler’s bombing of Exeter in May
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I've finished reading After the Bombing and was disappointed. In its favour, it's an easy read, but not one I would recommend to anyone. I am so glad I didn't go and buy it, which I would have been tempted to do as I have enjoyed books by this author before.

I wonder about the references to lighthouses. An odd addition. I know Clare Morrall has written a book about a lighthouse and thought she might be either slightly obsessed with them or simply using her knowledge from research again. Either
Jul 04, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I wasn't quite sure what to expect of this book. Hovering somewhere between a semi-fictional memoir of school life in wartime and a flight of historical fancy, it leaned towards the latter but I confess I ended up enjoying it, slightly more than it probably deserved.

For me it was a easy uncomplicated read, with sufficient personal echoes (dusty public schools, coming-of-age agonies, Exeter Uni, the Washington Singer buildings, and Brief Encounter-style thwarted stirrings) to make it feel rather
Pam Robertson
Published in 2014, After the Bombing centres on the effects of German bombing in Exeter in 1942. This was carried out in retaliation for the allies’ bombing of Lubeck . The book opens as the bombs rain down on Exeter and concentrates on Alma Braithwaite, a pupil at Goldwyn’s School for Girls, and her friends. As a consequence of what happens that night, Alma’s life is changed forever and the rest of the book shows us how she deals with the aftermath of this and other traumatic events.

Karen Cole
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

With girls called Alma, Curls, Natalie and Giraffe and a girls boarding school as the setting, the start of After the Bombing could have been the beginning of an Enid Blyton type school story. However, as the boarders of Goldwyn's school are rushed to the air raid shelter everything is about to change for them. This is Exeter on 3rd May 1942 - the night of one of the Baedeker raids when, in retaliation for the bombing of Lübeck, German bombers attacked historical English cities given a 3 star or
Sid Nuncius
Apr 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was an excellent book. I enjoyed Clare Morall's The Roundabout Man very much, but this is if anything even better. It is exceptionally well written, gripping, thoughtful and very wise.

The story is set around a girls' school in Exeter in 1942 and 1963. The two narratives are intercut, and Morall uses the device very well. The 1942 story is of an air-raid on Exeter and the school itself and the immediate aftermath, and in 1963 a new head arrives at the school and we meet again some
Vicky-Leigh Sayer
I expected to love this book, but I was left a little disappointed by the ending. I'm not sure exactly what I was expecting, but I feel it leaves a few things unanswered. Maybe there's a sequel in the pipeline that I don't know about. Or maybe ''After the Bombing'' just has 'one of those endings'?

'After the Bombing' opens with a descriptive prologue about the RAF bombing Lübeck in Germany and the trail of devastation left in the bomber's wake. The chapter closes detailing Hitler's plans for
This is the first historical fiction book that I've read. I like would give it an overall raying of 2.5 stars. I liked how the author structured this book by smoothly transitioning between how the war affected Almas' childhood & how her life unfolded after the bombing.

I was intrigued by the school politics & alliances formed which added to the suspense of the book. However at some points I felt that the tempo of this book was slow and I was yearning for more action but this might just
Jun 16, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story opens in May 1942 with a bombing raid on Exeter. The girls at Goldwyn’s School take shelter and emerge some hours later to find a scene of devastation all around them. Fifteen year old Alma Braithwaite is one of those girls whose life is for ever changed by that dreadful night. Twenty one years later we meet her again, now a teacher at the same school, and once again the life she has made for herself is to be overturned.
Going back and forth between the two time frames of 1942 and 1963,
David Lowther
After the Bombing is a cleverly constructed novel that deals with the 1942 air raid on Exeter which was still having repercussions twenty years later. At the heart of the story is a girls' school that is badly hit during the bombing.

I found the first two-thirds gripping and fascinating but the tale flagged towards the end. I'm a romantic at heart and would have preferred a tidier ending and, really, the central character had to cope with more tragedy that anyone deserved.

A good story which just
Tina Price
Feb 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An intriguing novel, set in wartime and sixties Exeter, with a focus on the young life of four girls, and following one of them as an adult. If you attended an all girls direct grant grammar school in the sixties this will bring plenty of memories and I thought this section was true to the times, while the feel of the war time sections was equally convincing.
The story manages to be quite gentle and calm, despite the turbulence of air raids and the focus on the sense of los experienced by all
Anne Goodwin
Alma Braithwaite, a thirty-something music teacher at a girls’ school in early-60s Exeter, lives alone amongst the dust of the house where she grew up. Orphaned at fifteen by an air raid that also destroyed part of her school, Alma seems stuck in the past. That’s certainly the view of the new headmistress, Miss Yates, whose reforming ways Alma seems determined to resist. But, though now elevated to the role of teacher at her old school, there’s a part of Alma that’s still a traumatised teenager, ...more
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book despite it being out side of my usual comfort zone. I liked the characters, even those who are meant to be unlikable, and I liked the way the story was woven between two different years, 1942 and 1963.

There was an error in Ms Morrall's research when she refers to the poster 'Keep Calm and Carry On' but this was never used in public during WWII, intended to be used in the event of an invasion, which of course never happened. So the public did not see it until 2000 when it was
Apr 24, 2015 rated it liked it
I found the subject matter fascinating. I'd heard of the Baedeker Raids, but this helps to flesh out the link to a real piece of World War two history. That said, I found it difficult to get into the story.

I ended up liking the structure, with the shift in time between life at the school at the time of the bombings and life at the school in the 1960s.

However, I found that some of the characters and sub-plots seemed a bit unrealistic, so this spoiled it. The ending was a little unexpected. Whilst
Jun 12, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars! A very thoughtful book about the bombing of Exeter in 1942. The author has the story moving between events at a girls school before, during and after the bombing and 1963 when one of the girls is living there and teaching at the school. I particularly liked reading about Exeter since I've been there and very much enjoyed visiting the area.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was interested in the book as I live in Exeter. I enjoyed the descriptions of the local area and the 1942 storyline. The 2nd storyline set in 1963 to show the effects of the war lingering in women’s lives didn’t develop the characters quite enough for me and seemed tail off rather than keep up the pace of the earlier part of the book.
Aug 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
vaguely interesting, both in terms of its local context and in describing the impact of the war years. but, it took too long to say very little, the characters weren't strongly developed and it rather ran out of steam
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Clare Morrall (born 1952) is an English novelist. Born in Exeter, she has lived mainly in Birmingham, where she worked for many years as a music teacher.