When the War came, suddenly the sky was upon us all like a huge hawk hovering, threatening. Everyone was searching the sky waiting for some terror to fall.
Paul Nash, Aerial Flowers, 1945
Rosebay willowherb grew rapidly on bombsites in WWII. Often called Bombweed, its image conjured up the terror of the blitz and its aftermath; a reminder of the lifelong consequences of wartime loss and the choice to cling to, discard or lock away the memories of those who have disappeared from view in the fog of war.
Bombweed, by Gillian F Morton, tells the story of Vivienne, a naive teenager in 1938, who has to grow up in a world at war. Her family is shattered, like the buildings in her town, by the Luftwaffe. Vivienne and her sisters each seek ways to deal with devastating loss. Memories are destroyed, blotted out with drink and sex, or clung to obsessively. Houses can be repaired when peace comes, but the heart is a trickier matter. Vivienne knows that to recover she must reach into the dark past.
Author Gillian and her sister Maureen will talk about the novel Bombweed, and the life of their mother, Margaret Smith, who wrote the original story. Set largely in Portsmouth, Margaret’s wartime experiences, and those of her family and friends, are the framework for the plot. Local wartime history brought to life!