Cover of first edition
|Genre||Children's historical novel|
|Publisher||Victor Gollancz Ltd|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||160 (first edition)|
Carrie's War is a 1973 British children's novel by Nina Bawden, set during the Second World War and following two evacuees, Carrie and her younger brother Nick. It is often read in schools for both its literary and its historical interest. Carrie's War received the 1993 Phoenix Award and has been adapted for television.
A frame story has Carrie visiting the town as a widow with three children. She tells the children what happened thirty years before.
Carrie Willow and her brother Nick are evacuated to Wales during the Second World War. They stay with the bullying shopkeeper Mr Evans who dominates his gentle but weak sister, whom they call "Auntie Lou". Another evacuee, Albert Sandwich, is staying at a country house called Druid's Bottom with Mr Evans' other sister, the dying Mrs Gotobed, her disabled cousin, Mr Johnny Gotobed, and her housekeeper, Hepzibah Green, who is reputed to be a wise woman. Carrie and Nick become friends with Albert and Johnny and spend a lot of time there. The housekeeper tells the children many tales, including one about a curse on Druid's Bottom which will activate if a mysterious skull is removed from the house.
When Mrs Willow comes to visit them, they say nothing about their dislike of Mr Evans as they do not want to leave. On Carrie's birthday, Albert kisses her on the cheek for a present and she is delighted. Auntie Lou becomes friendly with Major Cass Harper, an American soldier (keeping this secret from her brother who would not approve). When Mrs Gotobed passes away, Albert is sure that Mr Evans has stolen her will so that he can turn Hepzibah and Mr Johnny out of his deceased sister's house. Carrie does not want to believe this of Mr Evans, seeing him as an honest man, but when she is convinced she throws the cursed skull into the horse pond. Mrs Willow arranges a new home for her family near Glasgow, so the children prepare to leave, with mixed feelings. At the same time, Auntie Lou departs to marry Major Harper, leaving Mr Evans alone. Then Carrie learns that Mr Evans is innocent after all. As the children leave by train, they see that Druid's Bottom is on fire. Carrie is guilt-stricken, believing it is her fault.
Thirty years later, Carrie's children discover that Hepzibah and Mr Johnny are living in a modified barn at Druid's Bottom, having escaped the fire. Albert Sandwich still visits them. Mr Evans had died long ago from grief and loneliness.
Awards and nominations
Carrie's War won the 1993 Phoenix Award from the Children's Literature Association as the best English-language children's book that did not receive a major contemporary award when it was originally published twenty years earlier. The award is named for the mythical bird phoenix, which is reborn from its ashes, to suggest the book's rise from obscurity.
Film, TV or theatrical adaptations
Carrie's War has been adapted twice for television by the BBC, first in 1974, and then again in 2004. The original 1974 version starred Juliet Waley as Carrie, and Rosalie Crutchley as Hepzibah. The more recent 2004 BBC version (broadcast in America on PBS – Masterpiece Theatre in 2006) starred Keeley Fawcett as Carrie, Alun Armstrong as Mr. Evans, Geraldine McEwan as Mrs. Gotobed, Eddie Cooper as Albert Sandwich and Pauline Quirke as Hepzibah. Both versions are available on DVD, distributed by Acorn Media UK.
A stage adaptation by Novel Theatre ran at Sadler's Wells, 2006 – 2007 and completed a successful West End run starring Prunella Scales June – September 2009.