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Henrietta's War (The Bloomsbury Group)

Henrietta's War (The Bloomsbury Group) [Kindle Edition]

Joyce Dennys
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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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, '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

Product Description

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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3219 KB
  • Print Length: 180 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408802813
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (1 July 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0051UH7LY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #189,032 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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 1000 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
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book consists of fictional letters from the pen of Henrietta Brown, a housewife and mother, married to local doctor Charles, written to her childhood friend Robert. However, much of the life of Henrietta mirrored that of Joyce Dennys; born in India, she attended Art School in Exeter (in the book, her lodger was also a fellow art student) and she was also the wife of a doctor, a mother and a writer and artist. During the way, the character of Henrietta became a propaganda tool; a comfort to those people who read the letters in Sketch magazine, as well as helping her own frustration at not being able to work as a writer. Husband Charles amazement when somebody sends her an unexpected food parcel from Australia after reading one of her, "mouldy little stories" probably shows her resentment more than any other line in the book. These letters were compiled in book form in the 1980'sand it's good to see them re-released on kindle for a new audience to enjoy.

There are two volumes of the Henrietta letters and this is the first, which covers the period 1939 to 1942. Henrietta lives in Devon, a `safe area' in rural England. However, that is not to say that residents do not have their own concerns - from the threat of invasion, to taking in evacuees, digging for freedom, running sewing bees and jumble sales - these people were the backbone of the country during wartime. Anyone who has read anything about the Home Front knows that the WI virtually fed the country during wartime, while women volunteered as nurses, drivers and in so many ways kept things at home running. It is this that Henrietta reports on - reassuring those at home and in the forces that everything would be there for them when they return; that people could cope and would not fail in their task.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my cup of Earl Grey
The eponymous Henrietta is a middle-class, middle-aged housewife who lives in a small rural coastal town in Devon (based on Budleigh Salterton) that abounds with stereotypical... Read more
Published 1 month ago by nigeyb
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
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. Read more
Published 5 months ago by K Parks
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 12 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 14 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 15 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 16 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 20 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
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