Caught By Henry Green

Caught is one of his lesser known novels now but at the time was heralded as a future classic ,when it was published in 1943 during the middle of the war and two years after the end of the blitz which is what the book is about Henry green or  Henry Yorke as he was in real life was in the Auxiliary  Fire Service in London during the height of the blitz ,this book was a result of the time he spent putting out fires during the war.

When Roe first joined the Service ,when nations were still declaring peace,it seemed ludicrous to be trained by fire men in a real fire-station .He signed on because he had for years wanted to see inside one of these turreted buildings ,and had also he had always been afraid of heights .

Maybe green describes the reason he joined the Auxiliary fire service

Caught is the story of a team of firemen and focus on two of them they have a link that goes back before the war and they joined the fire service .They are Richard Roe ,he is upper class and I would imagine this is Henry Green himself and Pye  the sub officer of the fire station ,who like most of the team is a working class chap but a man who has a lot more to himself and his life than it first seems .He has a very disturbed sister that Richard roe the other main character in the book  had a run in before when he his son  Christopher  was held  hostage by her in her room  for a time until Pye rescues him ,this forms a barrier initially between the two men ,but we see ebb and flow of them at work and rest  that at heart they are both flawed men. I always think this is one of Green’s strongest writing traits is that of the  flawed man a lot of his characters are flawed in one way or other  whether it is class or secrets  something always makes them seem more interesting than the normal characters in most novels .There are scenes of the blitz  which are exquisitely written and bring you into the heart of the blitz  but come towards the end as we also see the build up to the blitz ., but like all good drama based round the fire service it is the  quiet times in between that is the most interesting seeing the interactions of the men as they wait not certain what the night holds or even if they’ll be their next day ,This I feel this is  probably  as Henry Green experienced the war ,he was in Middle age when  he volunteer to join the fire service  in London something he didn’t have to do give his station in life as the fire service was made up mostly of working class men during the war  and sure he spent many hours chatting like Pye and Roe ( there is a clever pun by Green on the two leads Name ).Roe Has lost his wife and via the fire station finds a new love .This book is also a great look at class before during and in a way after the war when the barriers to classes interacting in everyday situations were broken down some what .The cialogue also forms the backbone of this book the interaction between character is all spoken never thought or described as Green said in the piece I quote from wood he thought what people said was the most important bit of the book .This book is out of print but second hand copies about I got mine cheap in Oxfam

Have you read this book ?

Have you read any other books based in London during the war ?

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Caroline
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 19:08:18

    This sounds great. I’ve watched movies set during the Blitz and one of my readalong titles by Balchin is set in London during the Blitz.
    I would love to read this one as well.


  2. Parrish
    Jan 26, 2012 @ 20:30:20

    this has an interesting subject matter with it’s setting in the blitz, there are a few copies on Amazon if anyone’s interested ranging from around £14 up to silly prices.


  3. helen
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 12:12:31

    Hello! I’ve just finished reading this and am trying to write a review at the moment; it is a truly wonderful novel and I am scandalised it’s out of print. I enjoyed your review but part of me wishes I hadn’t read it as now I’m stuck for what to write!

    Thank you so much for hosting Henry Green Week, and dreaming it up. I am looking forward to reading everyone’s reviews!


  4. helen
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 21:35:14

    By the way, Elizabeth Bowen’s ‘The Heat of the Day’ is another novel set during the Blitz although published a little after the war – it’s very different, but excellent.

    (I have now written my review.)


  5. Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 23:47:05

    I’m a bit rusty when it comes to leaving comments, having been out of touch for a month!

    But I love Elizabeth Bowen’s ghost story set during the Blitz. I don’t have the title at my elbow, but it’s one of her most popular short stories. I think the story goes over the top ghost-wise, but the cloying atmosphere of a shuttered up London home is rendered beautifully.

    I also love a children’s book (ages 10-14) which you must read if you haven’t: Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle? Magorian. I’m certain of the author’s last name, but not the first. I was tremendously moved by this book.

    These are my favorites!
    Hope you’re doing well!

    Judith (Reader in the Wilderness)


  6. gina @letterandline
    Jan 29, 2012 @ 05:43:25

    Thanks for hosting Henry Green week. I hadn’t heard of him–as I mentioned on Twitter–but it sounds like he’s up my alley.

    I had to google the Blitz. Turns out I was familiar with the history but not the name for the air raids. Very interesting.


  7. Sarah
    Jan 29, 2012 @ 15:26:35

    I like the points you make about class, Stu. I didn’t bring that out in my review, and it’s fascinating how Roe changes, how it his class which is the handicap. Thank you so much for Henry Green week. I loved this novel.


    • winstonsdad
      Jan 29, 2012 @ 18:04:29

      I loved it and I enjoyed this novel Sarah I think is now my favourite of his I ve read ,Roe is the most intesting character in the book ,all the best stu


  8. Trackback: Caught – Henry Green « A Rat in the Book Pile

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January 2012


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