Michael John Kelly was born in Bristol in 1937 and has spent most of his life there, apart from a stint in the Navy for his National Service. He has a passion for the old city that he grew up in, and the book he has written, his first attempt at in this genre, shows his passion and love for the place are still deeply entrenched in his psyche.
Just Boy from Bristol, calls itself a memoir, but it reads much more like a novel, with its intense studies of his parents, his friends and the city of Bristol itself. Word pictures are expertly drawn, giving the reader a clear idea of the way the war affected everyone, but concentrating mainly on his life with a rather flibbertigibbet mother, a lady who had several friends after his father deserted them early in the war, and liked to enjoy herself!
The two of them lived right in the heart of Bristol and had to move several times, due mainly to bomb damage. But Michael seems to have grown up a quite happy, if somewhat lonely boy, who made the most of his situation and, fortunately for us, managed to remember most of the things that happened to him, despite the fact that he was only three at the start of hostilities, and eight when the war finished.
This book manages to capture the anxieties of the time, with people wondering how close the next bomb is going to be, cowering in air-raid shelters and seeing the destruction of some truly wonderful old buildings, many of them hundreds of years old.
I can really recommend this book as a very interesting read – you know an enormous lot more about what war does to a city and the people in it by the time you get to the final age, and it has the added advantage that Michael’s writing style is extremely readable – it’s one of those books you just don’t want to put down!
Owners of Kindles will be delighted to hear that “Just a Boy from Bristol” is one of Amazon’s listed volumes, so you don’t even have to rush out to buy it!