Foyle’s War — Don’t Miss It!

Mary Newkirk, Adult Services Librarian

Recently, my husband and I have been spending quite a few hours in front of the television watching “Foyle’s War,” a fascinating look at life in Britain during World War II.  This series, which began on British television in 2002, has continued to produce new programs that just keep getting better.  Detective Chief Superintendent, better known as DCS Foyle, is played by Michael Kitchen, a well- known British actor.  This quiet, honest widower has been rejected from war duty, so reluctantly continues in his position as chief detective in the small town of Hastings, a seaside town south of London.  Foyle is admired for his intellect. He has high moral standards, is scrupulously honest and doggedly determined. His speech is rather straightforward in manner, but combined with a dry wit. The murders that occur in each episode are set against the background of World War II and its misery, which results in less emphasis on the murders when bombs are falling and telegrams are informing many of war casualties.  Each episode gives an insight on just how different the war years were for the English as compared to Americans.

Several episodes include Foyle’s son Andrew, an RAF pilot, whom Foyle worries about.  Actor Julian Ovenden, who plays Andrew, remarked, “I’ve enjoyed being a part of “ Foyle’s War”. I think the series has done so well because it celebrates British characteristics like courage, stubbornness against overwhelming odds and that sense of community spirit with everyone soldiering on and pulling together. It focuses on the domestic situation, not just the war, and (creator) Anthony Horowitz is extremely deft at finding episodes that are warm and strong in the domestic area alongside a good war story.”  DCS Foyle has a loyal female driver, Sam (Honeysuckle Weeks), who is grateful to have this job and serves with great enthusiasm.  Her zeal for police work is rewarded, as the series progresses, and her unsolicited advice becomes more important, especially her ability to overhear bits of important conversations.

Foyle’s War”- Series 9 is in production now in Liverpool.  Foyle is in a new role as a senior intelligence officer in MI5, immersed in the dangerous world of espionage in post-war Britain.  Anthony Horowitz says this season will probably be his last. “I’ve written 22 episodes. That’s an awful lot of crimes, clues, bodies, suspects, mysteries and chases.”  Many of us sincerely hope he changes his mind.  You can find all of the series in our 791 Suspense DVD collection.

The stories in “Foyle’s War” are all inspired by historical truth.  Many other books and movies at Manhattan Public Library also give a picture of life during the harsh war years of the twentieth century.

Stella Bain by Anita Shreve tells the story of a volunteer ambulance driver and nurse in France who has run away from her abusive husband in America.  She suffers a memory loss after a shelling incident and must rediscover who she is and whom she loves.

The Wind is Not a River” by Brian Payton is a top-notch WWII historical novel about the little-remembered Japanese invasion and partial occupation of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run when his plane is shot down over the island of Attu. He survives and must battle the elements, starvation, and his own remorse while evading discovery by the Japanese.

Code Name Verity” by Elizabeth Wein is the compelling story of a young female spy captured in Nazi-occupied France who writes a confession of her activities in the Resistance In exchange for a temporary stay of execution and lesser forms of torture.  This book has been out for a couple years but shouldn’t be missed by adults and teens.  It has won the Michael Printz Award for best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit.

1940 House” is a documentary show which has a modern family trying to live as if they were experiencing wartime conditions in 1940’s London.  They live with no tv, telephone, or car and experience baths once per week and food rationing. Find this in our 070 Documentary DVD section.



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