The Citadel #bookreview

This was a surprise read for me. I caught a snippet of a radio adaption just before Christmas which was followed by a programme on the bombs that changed Britain, one of those BBC documentaries of surprising depth – in this case a study of individual WW2 bombs that had far reaching impacts on Britain during and after the war.

The bomb in question, linking to this book fell on a school days into the mass bombing raids on London in 1940. Because so many children were there, because it was in a severely poverty stricken part of the East End, and because they should have been long gone but for the lack of coordination by the rescue services the journalist who documented their plight caused a set or ripples that in part formed the mindset of a civil servant William Beveridge. His eponymous report on health and social care led, inexorably to the creation of the National Health Service.

And the link to the Citadel? Aneurin Bevan and the book’s author were both in Tredegar in the early 1920s, Cronin as a Doctor appointed by the workman’s management board. They both had their opinions on the need for a better, more universal health system formed by their experiences and the Citadel, published in 1937 is often spoken as having a major influence on the creation of the NHS.

Doctor AJ Cronin’s novel is about a young idealistic doctor worn down by the myopic self serving health provision between the wars.

It is an uplifting book despite many gloomy turns as Scot Andrew Marsden goes from newly qualified terror in a Welsh industrial town, whose health care is dependant on having a card, part of the unionised work force in, in this case, anthracite works. He moves to a large town and then a quango studying the effects of silicate in lung disease.

But his ideals are stopping him getting on and the bright lights of medical practice in the West End seduce him.

As a sound historical novel recounting the stubbornness of self protecting professions and the iniquities of a private medical system that failed those without the means to pay, it is priceless. As a novel with a compelling story line, flawed and believable characters it is a joy. The prose isn’t sophisticated, the descriptions lack any flamboyance and the philosophical musings are of the human sort, grounded in an often grim reality.

If you’ve not found it yet, I heartily recommend a read.

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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15 Responses to The Citadel #bookreview

  1. barbtaub says:

    So interesting to see your comments. I read this decades ago, but still remember it. Great recommendation!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mary Smith says:

    I think there’s a copy in my dad’s books which are still in boxes in the attic. Will mark it as one to read.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Ritu says:

    Sounds like something I may dabble in….

    Liked by 2 people

  4. willowdot21 says:

    I love this book and have read it twice! It has been read also more than once on Radio 4 .. I admit it now I love Radio 4 …. Shoot me now. 💜💜

    Like

    • TanGental says:

      It’s a fact that there are three absolute certainties as you age: you will want a garden, you will like Brussel sprouts and you will love radio four. It just happens

      Like

  5. trifflepudling says:

    Gollancz seemed to publish left-type authors. Nice that you enjoyed it – it’s very satisfying when that kind of thing happens. I’m afraid I was put off A J Cronin forever by the ghastly Dr Finlay’s Casebook on tv billions of years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ah, I was wondering if that was the same Cronin as Dr Findlay’s Casebook (which I quite enjoyed at the time) sounds like one of those books that has it’s time several times as time passes….

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Ali Isaac says:

    Hi Geoff, hope all is well with you and yours. I love when a novel impacts history, we usually expect it to be the other way around. That’s the kind of quality which makes a novel important, and a classic, in my view, and yet I’ve never heard of this one before. At the moment though I’m all grossed out with the horrors of wars and the cruelty of humanity from all my history studies. Its exhilarating to learn about the past, and what and who brought us to this moment, but it really is like studying the dark side of human nature, and sometimes I find it quite heavy going. So all my reading at the moment is for escapism. I will bear it in mind for the future, though. 😊

    Like

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