Having seen Victoria Wood's wonderful period drama last year, Father Christmas heard my request and kindly brought me the book.
I have deliberately taken several weeks to read it because I wanted to savour and enjoy it to the full.
We are so lucky that Nella Last decided to join the Mass Observation Project as she had a natural talent for writing about the everyday "nitty gritty" of the war years. Even though most of us will have heard stories from parents and grandparents about life in the war, inevitably they will be dominated by what the men did. This is wartime life on a daily basis as seen through the eyes of a middle-aged woman who happily writes about everything - shopping, cooking, worrying about her sons, her health, her inexhaustible wish to "do something", sleep deprivation, sex (yes, sex!) - it's all there. Obviously the MOP sent out questionnaires from time to time requesting particular information, but Nella uses her diary to chronicle her innermost thoughts with a very heavy emphasis on her marriage, her undying love for her boys and especially "a woman's lot". She could see that when the war was over (assuming that Germany did not win) life would be very different for young women about to embark on marriage. They would not be happy to spend their entire life fitting everything in around their husband's wishes and needs and she was very envious of this.
She does not give many details regarding her life before the Second World War but it is very easy to read between the lines and realise that her bouts of ill health and depression were obviously very strongly linked to a dominent and domineering husband and in-laws.
However, the war is the making of Nella as she demonstrates again and again her various artistic talents, her inexhaustible energy and her undying positive and optimistic spirit - at least when other people are present.
I loved this book so much for its honesty, detail and courage and was so very sad when I reached the end. I bought it as a birthday present for one friend and have lent my copy to another, by the time I get it back I will probably read it again!