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 younger brother Nick are evacuated to a rundown mining town in Wales during the Second World War. They stay with the bullying shopkeeper Mr Evans who dominates his gentle but weak younger sister, whom they call "Auntie Lou". Another evacuee Carrie befriended, Albert Sandwich, is staying at a dilapidated country house called Druid's Bottom with Mr Evans' older sister, the dying Mrs Dilys 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.
It is revealed that Mr Evans has been estranged from his older sister, Mrs Gotobed, after she married a wealthy Englishman whose family owned the mines where their father was killed in an accident. Carrie is caught in the rift between the brother and sister. Despite the almost universal contempt toward Mr Evans, Carrie does give him a chance and sees that, beneath his rough exterior, he genuinely is a kind-hearted man who became embittered toward the world due to his hard life and the feud with his older sister, to whom he was once very close.
When Mrs Willow comes to visit them, they say nothing about their dislike of Mr Evans as they do not want to leave. Mrs Gotobed assures Hepzibah and Mr Johnny that they can continue to live in her house once she has died, and that she has made a will saying so. Carrie only meets Mrs Gotobed twice before she dies, and Mrs Gotobed asks Carrie to tell Mr Evans she (Dilys) has never forgotten him, despite their feud. Hepzibah and Albert tell Carrie that, despite Mr Evans' firm belief that Hepzibah is cheating Mrs Gotobed out of money, Mrs Gotobed is in fact penniless.
On Carrie's birthday, Albert kisses her 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, despite there being plenty of evidence that Mrs Gotobed did not even make a will; with her mind deteriorating due to age and illness, she simply believed she had made one. Johnny and Hepzibah will be homeless after a month's notice, as the house has become Mr Evans' property. Carrie does not want to believe this of Mr Evans, seeing him as an honest man. Albert on the other hand firmly believes Mr Evans has destroyed the will, and becomes even more adamant after he realises that a ring Mr Evans gave Carrie as a present was in fact a ring belonging to Mrs Gotobed.
However, she becomes convinced after Albert vaguely recalls seeing an envelope in Mrs Gotobed's jewellery box which disappeared after Mr Evans visited the house to take an inventory of his late sister's belongings. This envelope, Carrie believes, was Mrs Gotobed's will, and she too thinks Mr Evans stole it to ensure that he would inherit everything. To prevent this from happening, 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: the envelope in fact contained nothing more than a childhood photograph of Mr Evans and Mrs Gotobed, which she had left him. Mr Evans bought the ring he gave Carrie as a present for Mrs Gotobed in their youth. 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 television film 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 in 2006–2007 and had a successful West End run starring Prunella Scales in June–September 2009.
- Carrie's War in schools Archived 8 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
- Johnny seems to have cerebral palsy, but his disability is not named in the novel
- "Phoenix Award Brochure 2012"[permanent dead link]. Children's Literature Association. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
See also the current homepage "Phoenix Award".