A British radio station struggles through the London blitz, in a “wonderful” novel of World War II England (A.S. Byatt), by a veteran of the BBC.
The nation is listening. It’s 1940, and BBC radio is on the air. Dedicated to the cause, it’s going to do what it does best: keep the British upper lip stiff without resorting to lies. But nightly blackouts and the thunder of exploding enemy bombs are only part of the chaos faced by the staff.
There’s a battle for control between two program directors—one recklessly randy, the other efficient. Their comely assistant is suffering the pangs of unrequited love; an unwed mother is resisting the impending birth of her baby; and an exiled French general takes to the airwaves demanding Britain’s surrender. Then there’s the concert hall itself—a makeshift shelter for the displaced that quickly becomes a hotbed for quick trysts, bloody brawls, private wars between the sexes, political grandstanding, pointless deaths, and overriding fear, as the news unfolds just outside the building’s vulnerable walls.
Inspired by the Booker Prize–winning author’s own wartime experiences at the BBC, Human Voices is a novel at once “funny, touching, and authentic” (Sunday Times, London).
“Made me laugh out loud as I have hardly done since Cold Comfort Farm. It is extraordinary and immensely praiseworthy that a book with such an ultimately serious idea can be so brilliantly funny.” —Country Life
“A tribute to the unsung and quintessentially English heroism of imperfect people.” —New Criterion