World War II Stories | Wyatt’s World

With the trailers arriving for Their Finest and The Zookeeper’s Wife—two forthcoming films based on novels of war—and the news that the British drama series Home Fires is returning to PBS, it’s a good time to build a World War II display. There are plenty of new books to add to the wealth of backlist titles.

  • In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II by Rhys weweretheluckyones.jpg22417
    Bowen (Lake Union: Amazon).
    In what could easily become a PBS show of its own, Bowen’s novel winningly details a World War II spy game. It features an English aristocrat’s daughter who works at London’s top-secret home of code breakers, Bletchley Park, and a number of others with high-stakes plots and plans.
  • We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (Viking).
    This involving and buzzy debut revolves around the fate of the Kurc family, three generations of Jews living in Poland, as they suffer, fight, and survive through the long years of the war. Illuminating the scope of the global conflict, their experiences are shaped by geography, bravery, determination, perseverance, and luck.
  • The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff (Mira: Harlequin).
    In Jenoff’s latest (after The Kommandant’s Girl), a German circus becomes the refuge of an abandoned teenage Dutch girl named Noa and the Jewish baby she saves from the Nazis. There, Noa meets the cast-off Jewish wife of a German officer, and the story spins out through descriptions of circus life and the ever-present threat facing its members.
  • The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan (Crown).
    This debut novel transports readers to a small English village where a group of women keep themselves going during the war by singing in the local choir. Via diary entries, letters, and other literary forms, the life of Chilbury unfolds in focused and affectionate prose.
  • The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck (Morrow).
    Three women, all too familiar with the costs and repercussions of battle, shelter together in a dilapidated castle in this multilayered novel. The widows of men who took part in the failed attempt to kill Adolf Hitler, each of the women have suffered and survived in different ways.
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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt compiles LJ's online feature Wyatt's World and is the author of The Readers' Advisory Guide to Nonfiction (ALA Editions, 2007). She is a collection development and readers' advisory librarian from Virginia. Those interested in contributing to The Reader's Shelf should contact her directly at