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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Pairings: The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson


If you are anything like me, sometimes you get hooked on a subject while reading your current book and you can’t let it go upon closing the cover.  Sometimes you want to know more about the real subject involved, while other times you might just want to pick up another novel about the same thing.  Maybe you are even looking for other categories like film or music that might pick up on elements of something you read.  Here is where Book Pairings comes in.  Each installment of Book Pairings will have a theme that pairs up several books with something else that would compliment them beautifully (most often this will be other books).  I’m excited to explore where this will take me!

the beauty shop

I am currently reading The Beauty Shop by Suzy Henderson (which I will likely be reviewing next week, so stay tuned) which is set during WWII in England.  The “beauty shop” in the title is really a ward that cares for those who are burned and disfigured during warfare, many of these are airmen from the various air forces.  The doctor in charge of this ward is Dr. Archibald McIndoe who can work some magical wonders with plastic surgery.  Additionally, the female main character is a part of the WAAF.  All of these things I wanted to know more about.  Below are 5 non-fiction books that would perfectly expand on the subjects in this novel.

Masters of the Air: America’s Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany by Donald L. Miller

masters of the air

Book Blurb: Masters of the Air is the deeply personal story of the American bomber boys in World War II who brought the war to Hitler's doorstep. With the narrative power of fiction, Donald Miller takes readers on a harrowing ride through the fire-filled skies over Berlin, Hanover, and Dresden and describes the terrible cost of bombing for the German people.

Fighting at 25,000 feet in thin, freezing air that no warriors had ever encountered before, bomber crews battled new kinds of assaults on body and mind. Air combat was deadly but intermittent: periods of inactivity and anxiety were followed by short bursts of fire and fear. Unlike infantrymen, bomber boys slept on clean sheets, drank beer in local pubs, and danced to the swing music of Glenn Miller's Air Force band, which toured U.S. air bases in England. But they had a much greater chance of dying than ground soldiers. In 1943, an American bomber crewman stood only a one-in-five chance of surviving his tour of duty, twenty-five missions. The Eighth Air Force lost more men in the war than the U.S. Marine Corps.

The bomber crews were an elite group of warriors who were a microcosm of America -- white America, anyway. (African-Americans could not serve in the Eighth Air Force except in a support capacity.) The actor Jimmy Stewart was a bomber boy, and so was the "King of Hollywood," Clark Gable. And the air war was filmed by Oscar-winning director William Wyler and covered by reporters like Andy Rooney and Walter Cronkite, all of whom flew combat missions with the men. The Anglo-American bombing campaign against Nazi Germany was the longest military campaign of World War II, a war within a war. Until Allied soldiers crossed into Germany in the final months of the war, it was the only battle fought inside the German homeland.

Strategic bombing did not win the war, but the war could not have been won without it. American airpower destroyed the rail facilities and oil refineries that supplied the German war machine. The bombing campaign was a shared enterprise: the British flew under the cover of night while American bombers attacked by day, a technique that British commanders thought was suicidal.

Masters of the Air is a story, as well, of life in wartime England and in the German prison camps, where tens of thousands of airmen spent part of the war. It ends with a vivid description of the grisly hunger marches captured airmen were forced to make near the end of the war through the country their bombs destroyed.

Drawn from recent interviews, oral histories, and American, British, German, and other archives, Masters of the Air is an authoritative, deeply moving account of the world's first and only bomber war.

We All Wore Blue: Experiences in the WAAF by Muriel Gane Pushman

we all wore blue

Book Blurb: Muriel Gane was just eighteen when war was declared on. 3 September 1939: Keen to enlist and help the war effort, she was nonetheless young, nervous and leaving home for the first time. "We All Wore Blue" is the story of Muriel's subsequent experiences with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, her personal journey from the new recruit whose primary obsession was how well the blue of the uniform suited her, to a resolute and hard-working young woman with a wide social life and successful air-force career. Illustrated with family photographs, this book gives the reader a unique glimpse into the changing role of women and their experiences throughout the troubled years of the Second World War. It is the sequel to the moving "One Family's War", which relates the experiences of the Gane family during wartime.

The WAAF by Beryl E. Escott

the waaf

Book Blurb:  The story of the Women s Auxiliary Air Force is a journey of exploration. This intriguing history tells the story of the wartime WAAF at work and play. They were no decorative adjunct to the RAF, but an integral working force that eventually saved the RAF 150,000 men, whose places they admirably filled. Debarred from flying, they nevertheless could be found in posts ranging from cooks to aircraft fitters. In secrecy they worked as codebreakers at Bletchley Park, in the Y Listening Service, as code and cypher officers in Churchill s War Cabinet, as air interpreters, and as SOE agents in occupied France. Many others were posted abroad to work. This book provides a fascinating view of their many roles.

The Reconstruction of Warriors: Archibald McIndoe, the Royal Air Force, and the Guinea Pig Club by E.R. Mayhew

the reconstruction of warriors

Book Blurb: The history of the Guinea Pig Club, the band of airmen who were seriously burned in airplane fires, is a truly inspiring, spine-tingling tale. Before World War II, plastic surgery was in its infancy. The most rudimentary techniques were only known to a few surgeons worldwide. The Allies were tremendously fortunate in having the maverick surgeon Archibald McIndoe - nicknamed 'the Boss' or 'the Maestro' - operating at a small hospital in East Grinstead in the south of England. McIndoe constructed a medical infrastructure from scratch. After arguing with his superiors, he set up a revolutionary new treatment regime. Uniquely concerned with the social environment, or 'holistic care', McIndoe also enlisted the help of the local civilian population. He rightly secured his group of patients - dubbed the Guinea Pig Club - an honored place in society as heroes of Britain's war. For the first time official records have been used to explain fully how and why this remarkable relationship developed between the Guinea Pig Club, the RAF and the Home Front. First-person recollections bring to life the heroism of the airmen with incredible clarity.

McIndoe’s Army: The Story of the Guinea Pig Club and Its Indomitable Members by Edward Bishop

mcindoes army

Book Blurb: A totally rewritten version of The Guinea Pig Club, published by Macmillan in 1963!In the Guinea Pig's Club's 60th Anniversary year, Edward Bishop revises and expands his perceptive account of these unique aviation heroes, who were under the care of acclaimed plastic surgeon, Sir Archibald McIndoe.

Author Bishop tells the stories of these fighting men, from McIndoe's earliest wartime patients, and marvels at the way their courage and heroism gave them the hope to carry on with their lives, while displaying a delicate balance between candor, sympathy, horror and humor.

Are there any titles that you know of that would fit with these recommendations?  I would love to hear them!

keep calm and support book bloggers

A couple of my friends are celebrating this book in January, and to make sure you don’t miss the wonderful content, I’m linking them here:


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  1. Hi Heather. I came across your fantastic post and wanted to thank you for reading the book and for the forthcoming review - that's so great. Hope you're having a lovely week. All best wishes, Suzy Henderson. :)

    1. It is my pleasure! Loved the book - review should be up this Wednesday.

  2. I loved the detail in the book from everyday life during wartime to the intricacies of how faces were rebuilt. It goes without saying that the airman had a tough time, but there were other tragedies in the book that wrenched at the heart and brought home just how cruel war can be. The tension in the air was just as gripping as the romance on the ground. A highly recommended read.

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