Sunday, March 20, 2011
At Home with Henrietta
There is an amusing cast of characters in these letters, from the aging Lady B, who is always able to stay calm and look on the bright side, to the irritable Mrs. Savernack, who treats Henrietta like she's a bit simple and utterly hopeless. The group of people from the town have children fighting in this war and some have even lost children in the last war. They are trying to cope without friends, husbands and all of the niceties in life. Silk stockings must be worn with "ladders" (runs) because there are no replacements. Fuel shortages make people close up parts of their homes to economize. Walks on the shore are hampered by barbed wire and land mines. These letters reveal so many of the small details about life at home in England during the war that one might have heard of but never put together in such a complete picture.
Henrietta's War: News from the Home Front 1939-1942 and Henrietta Sees it Through: More News from the Home Front 1942-1945. I suppose they were divided in order to avoid a 300+ page collection but I decided to sit down and read both books back to back and I didn't lose interest at all. In fact, I found it more satisfying to have VE Day to look forward to at the end, rather than stopping on a melancholy note in the middle of the war.
Also, I'm happy to finally get to one of these beautiful Bloomsbury books (my copy of Henrietta's War is actually an older Penguin edition). I have heard so many good things about the series and now I truly appreciate what they have brought back in print. This pair of novels present a unique portrait of a segment of the British population that is regularly forgotten behind the tragedy and magnitude of the Blitz. I can't recommend these books enough to anyone interested in a sweet but melancholy stay in Devon during WWII.
Taking nothing for granted,
Support our site and buy Henrietta's War: News from the Home Front 1939-1942 (Bloomsbury Group) and Henrietta Sees It Through: More News from the Home Front 1942-1945 (Bloomsbury Group) on Amazon or find them at your local library. We bought our own copy of the first and received a review copy of the second from LibraryThing.