The Battle of Cable Street

In this short but excellent novel we follow Elsie, a young Jewish girl growing up during the 1930s in Stepney, London. Elsie and her brother Mikey live in a primarily Jewish area, although there are some Irish immigrants also. The two spend much of their childhood playing games with their friends, including Nathan, whose spectacular imagination shrouds them in worlds of their own making. However, with the rise of Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists, their world of make-believe soon begins to disappear as antisemitism rises and friendships fall apart.

This book provides an interesting insight into the turmoil experienced by Jewish communities in London (and around the world) during the 1930s. The novel’s structure allows for tension to build with each chapter, making for an engrossing read that does not shy away from the horrors Elsie, her family and her community face. The book also provides glimmers of hope, in the idea that there are good people who are willing to stand up for what is right.

In this regard, the text can be seen as inspirational, even if the content is dark and complex. This being a Barrington Stoke novel means the book is excellently laid out, with dyslexia friendly font and sepia toned paper for maximum accessibility. The novel ends with a warning that we may be facing dark times in the current climate also but generates optimism that such darkness can be eradicated once again.