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 ?