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Henrietta's War: News from the Home Front 1939-1942 (The Bloomsbury Group) [Paperback]

Joyce Dennys
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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Book Description

5 July 2009 The Bloomsbury Group
Spirited Henrietta wishes she was the kind of doctor's wife who knew exactly how to deal with the daily upheavals of war. But then, everyone in her close-knit Devonshire village seems to find different ways to cope: there's the indomitable Lady B, who writes to Hitler every night to tell him precisely what she thinks of him; the terrifyingly efficient Mrs Savernack, who relishes the opportunity to sit on umpteen committees and boss everyone around; flighty, flirtatious Faith who is utterly preoccupied with the latest hats and flashing her shapely legs; and then there's Charles, Henrietta's hard-working husband who manages to sleep through a bomb landing in their neighbour's garden. With life turned upside down under the shadow of war, Henrietta chronicles the dramas, squabbles and loyal friendships that unfold in her affectionate letters to her 'dear childhood friend' Robert. Warm, witty and perfectly observed, Henrietta's War brings to life a sparkling community of determined troupers who pull together to fight the good fight with patriotic fervour and good humour. Henrietta's War is part of The Bloomsbury Group, a new library of books from the early twentieth-century chosen by readers for readers.

Frequently Bought Together

Henrietta's War: News from the Home Front 1939-1942 (The Bloomsbury Group) + Henrietta Sees it Through: More News from the Home Front 1942-45 (The Bloomsbury Group) + Mrs Tim of the Regiment (The Bloomsbury Group)
Price For All Three: 22.47

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; paperback / softback edition (5 July 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408802813
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408802816
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 13.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 254,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'Reads like a 1940s Adrian Mole mocking war's little absurdities' The Times 'Warm and funny, but candid and telling too. A real delight!' Karen Howlett, www.cornflower.typepad.com 'I haven't read anything so funny for many years. They rank alongside E M Delafield's The Diary Of A Provincial Lady, and George and Weedon Grossmiths' The Diary of A Nobody' Susan Hill 'Anyone who wants to get the feel of the period (1939-42) must read these short letters' Daily Telegraph

About the Author

JOYCE DENNYS was born 14th August 1893 in India. The Dennys family relocated to England in 1896. Dennys enjoyed drawing lessons throughout her schooling and later enrolled at Exeter Art School. In 1919 Dennys married Tom Evans, a young doctor, and they moved to Australia. While living in New South Wales, Dennys's work was constantly in print and exhibited in many galleries. In 1922 Joyce became a mother and moved back to England. Her drawing took second place to the domestic and social duties of a doctor's wife and mother and she became increasingly frustrated. She voiced her frustrations through the character of Henrietta, a heroine she created for an article for Sketch. Henrietta was to become so important to Dennys that she once remarked, 'When I stopped doing the piece after the war, I felt quite lost. Henrietta was part of me. I never quite knew where I ended and she began.' These letters were later compiled to form Henrietta's War, first published by Andre Deutsch in 1985.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful reprint 4 July 2009
Quite simply, Henrietta's War is wonderful, and I never wanted it to stop. It was originally a series of articles in Sketch magazine during the Second World War. In the 1980s Joyce Dennys was doing her Spring Cleaning and came across the articles - and they were published in two collections. Henrietta's War and Henrietta Sees It Through. They take the form of letters from Henrietta to Robert, a childhood friend away at war.

The humour is very similar to other books of the period, like EM Delafield's Provincial Lady books - self-deprecating, and appreciative of the ridiculous even while she is proud of England's bravery. The letters are also accompanied by Dennys' own delightful sketches.

Henrietta represents the middle-class women in England, plucky and determined to carry on as normally as possible. They garden and chat and squabble - resisting the overly-zealous scrap metal collectors, and slowing down the knitting bee so as not to finish too soon, can be slotted into their daily lives. 'There's not much glamour on the home home-front. Ours not the saucy peaked cap of our untrammelled sisters [in the ATS]. Ours rather to see that the curtains are properly drawn, and do our little bit of digging in the garden. Ours to brave the Sewing Party and painstakingly make a many-tailed bandage, and ours to fetch the groceries home in a big basket.' In the background are Henrietta's husband, Dr. Charles; friends and occasional enemies Faith, Mrs. Simpkins and Mrs. Savernack; Henrietta's children Linnet and Bill.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare Gem of a Novel 29 Sep 2009
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 500 REVIEWER
Henrietta's War actually started out as columns in Sketch. Dennys was an artist who has many successful collections though once married and a mother in the late 1920's her life became a domestic one in the English countryside and so needed something to take her frustrations out on. Out came Henrietta's wartime letters to her `childhood friend' Robert who is `out on the front' and eventually became published as a collection and a novel in the form of this wonderful book.

Henrietta is a `doctors wife' (which all the local women think is very important in a slightly unconvinced way) to Charles and mother to Bill and Linnet living in Devon. As we meet her World War II is raging though where she lives the only real way that war is effecting them is the rations and `people are talking cockney up and down the high street'. Having home help she spends most of her time trying to join in the War Effort, joining local clubs, doing good, gossiping with her friends (wonderful characters like the bossy Lady B and Mrs Savernake and the flirty Faith who `The Conductor' is in love with) sunbathing on her roof, writing letters to Robert and getting a lot of bed rest.

For some people the war wasn't all bombs and terror, for some in the middle of nowhere it must have felt somewhat removed in many ways and Dennys addresses this. She also looks at how these people lived, admittedly in a comical tongue in cheek way, when the greatest crisis they had was not having enough sugar to make marmalade for the villages `Marmalade Week'. We see how the villagers coped and in some ways continued as normal, or as normally as they could, having jumble sales to raise money, joining drama clubs and even at one point getting arrested as Henrietta does.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic! 5 Aug 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is simply wonderful. I read it in one sitting and became very fond of Henrietta and her neighbours. This gives a real sense of what life was like in WWII, coping at home, even if not in immediate danger from bombs. One of the funniest parts in the book was when a bomb actually fell and everyone fought over it! And there is a sequel, excellent. Must rush and order it!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars On the home front 15 July 2009
Delightful little book that you could read in an afternoon.
Originally published as a magazine serial, with Joyce Dennys's own quirky illustrations, this is of the same genre as Diary of a Provincial Lady. As the PL was already well-established in another magazine, my guess is that Joyce Dennys jumped on a bandwagon, but I do think that she has a lighter touch than EM Delafield (Who can feel ever so slightly laboured if you read her at too long a sitting.) However, let's not quibble about their respective merits; if you liked the Provincial Lady, you'll love Henrietta ... and a delicious cast of characters fighting the war from a small town on the Devon coast, all wishing for their chance to give Hitler 'what for.'
Only 70 years ago ... but whatever happened to indomitable, tweedy ladies????
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful 16 Jan 2014
By K Parks
I absolutely loved this - it is a wonderful fictional account of Henrietta's experience of WW2, written in the form of letters to her friend who is serving overseas. It contains accounts of daily life in her Devonshire village and is full of wry and gentle humour. Its is a lovely read, the only downside being that it is too short. Read it!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A special treat
I have read this book so many times....usually a few pages before going to sleep. This book and its sequel" Henrietta sees it through" are part of a small collection that I... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Susan Stephens
5.0 out of 5 stars Henrietta's War
I came across a reference to this book quite by chance and got a copy to read. It sounded like a jolly barrel of laughs. And it was! Read more
Published 11 months ago by Keen Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Extremely Amusing
A brilliant short read which is concise but extremely amusing. The characters are well crafted and I found this a most absorbing read.
Published 13 months ago by Mike C
5.0 out of 5 stars Amusing
Lovely little book - funny and having an underlying truth to it. An interesting publication to find. Will look forward to more
Published 14 months ago by C. Saunders
4.0 out of 5 stars 'On the radio there is talk of invasion but let's not think about...
Delightful little book featuring Henrietta, wife of a Devon GP. In letters to a Childhood Friend serving in France, she shows the lighter side of the early years of WW2. Read more
Published 17 months ago by sally tarbox
4.0 out of 5 stars A Delightfully Easy Read
When this book arrived from amazon I was a bit disappointed that it was so short, and that its pages were peppered with childish illustrations. Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2012 by LizzyDashwood
3.0 out of 5 stars Mildly amusing
Short vignettes written in the form of letters to a 'dear childhood friend', with occasional shafts of original wit, but not suited for sustained reading being merely sketches... Read more
Published on 18 Nov 2010 by D. C. Gowans
5.0 out of 5 stars To be brave on cue is not as easy as one thinks!
I truly enjoyed this book. The outside is very pretty and fooled me in to thinking it a more serious book. I had no idea it was going to be such a funny book. Read more
Published on 13 Nov 2010 by Luthien Arnatuile
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is fabulous !
I have'nt laughed so much in ages.I loved this book so much that I am now going to buy and read all her other books.
Published on 11 July 2010 by Mrs. R. A. London
5.0 out of 5 stars Henrietta is a winner
This book will chear you up and cleanse your reading pallette.

Henrietta is a doctors wife in rural England during the war. Read more
Published on 27 Jan 2010 by old joanna
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