- Paperback: 300 pages
- Publisher: THE FEMINIST PRESS; New Ed edition (27 April 1978)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 093531282X
- ISBN-13: 978-0935312829
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 17.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 282,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Not So Quiet... : Stepdaughters of War (Women & Peace) Paperback – 27 Apr 1978
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Praised by the Chicago Sun-Times for its 'furious, indignant power', this story offers a rare, funny, bitter, feminist look at war. Published in London in 1930, this is a novel in autobiographical guise that describes a group of British women ambulance drivers on the French front lines during World War 1. As Voluntary Aid Detachment workers, the women pay for the privilege of driving the wounded through shell fire in the cold, on no sleep and an inedible diet, under the watchful eye of their punishing commandant, nicknamed Mrs Bitch.
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Top Customer Reviews
Smith intentionally dehumanises the men throughout the book in an attempt to distance herself from their condition and one is left under no illusion that this is one of the only ways to preserve her own sanity. The author's contrast with the heroic claptrap in letters from home is also presented with such force and anger it makes the reader wince with empathy. A grim job that was always sold high, this is a real eye opener both in terms of the female perspective on war and the situations faced by them. Cracking stuff.
'Smithy' is a volunteer ambulance driver, living and working in close quarters with other women volunteers, she ferries wounded men from ambulance trains and casualty clearing stations to various hospitals. There is no false nobility in her account; the men are shattered and in pieces, both literally and metaphorically and 'Smithy' herself is brutally affected by horror and by her endless, exhausting daily routines under the iron hand of 'Mrs Bitch' the commandant who regularly doles out unnecessary punishment to the exhausted, traumatised women.
This novel affected me greatly, partly I think because it surprised me so much. It is far removed from the traditional, noble 'daughters of England' representations of women in war and much closer to the reality of war writing that has been associated with the likes of Robert Graves and Seigfried Sassoon. I don't understand why this work is not read alongside accepted 'important' war writing, because it deserves its place up there and deserves a much wider readership than I suspect it currently gets.
Not So Quiet... was one of the titles that was reccommended to me and purchasing this book is something I'm not going to regret.
There are plenty of accounts of the First World War through, unsurprisingly, the eyes of men and what makes this book unique is that it is a fictional account of a young ambulance driver serving in France and what makes this book more remarkable is that it's from the perspective of a woman.
The role of women, especially during the First World War, was a topic that seemed to have been generally ignored. As a collective whole, their presence in the male dominated literature that surrounds the 1WW deems them as the enemy, the creators of life for the future only then, to willingly push them out onto the battlefields to be slaughtered all for the sake of trophies.
This type of hypocrisy and the attitudes of the women on the Home Front, is something that the reader sees slaughtered through the eyes of the main protaganist Smithy.
She is our eyes and ears and even our sense of smell. The author never lets up on the noise and horror of war, everything Smithy experiences, we doto. This unrelenting account gives the book its pace, even when we momentarily step out of France when Smithy returns home vowing never to go back to the Front, we experience the patriotism of the women at home, which is in itself allows the reader to experience a different type of war.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Absolute must read! Perfect book with an amazing message about the disaster of war.Published 11 months ago by Georgia O'Donovan
A book which lambasts War and Patriotism, particularly against women's patriotism and their ignorance of life and death in hospitals behind the frontline.Published 20 months ago by Mary B Hickford
Arrived in good time, in great condition. it's a book I had and lost years ago so great to get another copy.Published 22 months ago by julia hall
Sorry I cannot review this as I had to return it as recipient chaged his college course at the last minute.Published on 23 Feb. 2013 by Susie Q
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