The Midnight News

Knopf. May 2023. 336p. ISBN 9780593534977. $29. F
The latest from Baker (Longbourn) is set in 1940s England during the Blitz. Charlotte Richmond leaves Somerset to work as a typist at the Ministry of Information in London, lives in a rented attic, and tries to navigate this new world where the enemy is too close to home. She is determined to keep a positive attitude despite growing disillusionment, ineffectiveness, and paranoia. As if the air raids on London weren’t already life-threatening, Charlotte gets caught in a scheme that claims the life of her best friend, who becomes the voice inside her head. Baker deftly captures the complexities of grief and the toll it takes on one’s health. She highlights the generational and class divide that was heightened by the war, and a collective feeling of not belonging in one’s own home or mind. But amid the tragedy, she leaves room for laughter, hope, and the comforts of chosen family.
VERDICT Immersive, heartbreaking, and hard to put down, with an unforgettable heroine. Fans of Baker will enjoy the same compelling style the author is known for, and those who read World War II fiction will be delighted with her thorough research and fresh perspective on the period.
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