cover image Out of the Shelter

Out of the Shelter

David Lodge. Penguin Books, $14 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-14-012279-4

In the first American edition of an atmospheric, often comic, semi-autobiographical novel, Lodge ( Nice Work ) adroitly limns the maturation of Londoner Timothy Young. During WW II, his family passes most nights in the air-raid shelter in his friend Jill's garden. After a bomb kills Jill and her mother, Tim and his mother are evacuated to the country, but soon return to London where, making his First Confession, Tim is wracked with guilt for concealing that he and Jill had touched each other's genitals. Terrified of Hitler, Tim has nightmares after seeing what was ``supposed to be a funny film'' about him-- The Great Dictator . Even after the war, goods are scarce and food still rationed. Later, when Tim is 16, his older sister, Kath, who works for the U.S. Army in Germany, suggests that Tim spend the summer with her. Away from his claustrophobic and puritanical working-class home, Tim is initiated into adulthood; he comes to terms with his own and Kath's sexuality, and his abject fear of the Nazis is conveniently alleviated by a meeting with an ex-Nazi who proves to be a gentle, melancholy old man. (Aug.)