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Coventry, By Helen Humphreys

For all its resonance as a symbolic act of devastation, the destruction of ancient Coventry by German bombers on 14 November 1940 left no literary monument to match those in stone and glass (the new Cathedral) or sound (Britten's War Requiem).

Modest but satisfying, this quietly moving novel of two women's ordeal through hours of fire and fear avoids all showy gestures.

As Harriet, widowed in the last war, and Maeve, seeking her son, stumble towards dawn, they fit this extraordinary night into patterns of more ordinary pain. Harriet, who writes, and Maeve, who draws, each knows how art can resist time and loss.