Emerging out of the 1940–1941 London Blitz, the drama of these two short works, a novel and a memoir, comes from the courage and endurance of ordinary people met in the factories, streets and lodging houses of a city under bombardment.
Inez Holden’s novella Night Shift follows a largely working-class cast of characters for five night shifts in a factory that produces camera parts for war planes. It Was Different At The Time is Holden’s account of wartime life from April 1938 to August 1941, drawn from her own diary. This was intended to be a joint project written with her friend George Orwell (he was in the end too busy to contribute), and includes disguised appearances by notable literary figures of the period.
‘Whether her dialogue is invented or recorded — probably a mix of both — Holden was expert at capturing a whole person in their words. Whether it’s a long recollection by Mabs, one of the factory workers in Night Shift that’s almost a one-act play about battling Romeos, or just a line or two, Holden’s gift for exposition via dialogue is exceptional.’ The Neglected Books Page