Three for V.E.
Here are three books I am reading at the moment (yes, I read lots of books at the same time) and it occurred to me that they were all about the Second World War – and about women’s experiences of it. I hope to do a review of each eventually, but thought it might be interesting to look at them to mark this day, the 75th anniversary of Victory in Europe.
The first book was originally published in 1940, and has been reprinted by the wonderful Dean Street Press in 2019 so it is easy to get hold of – “Nothing to Report” by Carol Oman. Mary Morrison is a busy woman in her village in 1939 – but despite all her occupations, she begins to realise that a War is coming. Whether it is because she expects relatives and friends to descend on her, or she knows that she will be asked to contribute in various ways, she realises that everything will change.
“Eve’s War” is a collection of diaries from a “military wife”, Evelyn Shillington, beginning in 1935, and ending in war – ravaged Italy, as she followed her husband Captain Rex Shillington on various postings. Edited by the wonderful Barbara Fox, who has produced books which often feature wartime memories, she has done a lively and excellent job of bringing these diary entries to many people.
The third book is a novel set in London, from 1940 onwards, and features eighteen year old Juliet Armstrong as she discovers war is not only fighting on a battlefield. “Transcription” by Kate Atkinson is a book published in 2018, looking at a woman’s work, and what happened in the aftermath to a war which changed everything.
I could have picked other books, especially from Persephone who have over twenty books written during or about the War years. My favourite wartime author is undoubtedly Angela Thirkell, who wrote several books at a time when the outcome of the war was far from obvious, combining humour, realism and people’s reactions to great effect.
Have you any favourite books from or about the period?