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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The life of Winifred, 1 Nov 2000
By 
Lynette Baines (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Testament of Friendship: The Story of Winifred Holtby (Virago classic non-fiction) (Paperback)
This is the second of Vera Brittain's testaments, and it is the story of a woman with a great capacity for friendship and a desire for social justice. Winifred Holtby was born in Yorkshire, joined the WAAC during WW1, completed her university education at Oxford (where she met Vera) after the war, and worked as a journalist and novellist in London until her early death in 1935. Winiferd and Vera lived together in London during the 1920's and after Vera's marriage, she shared a house with Vera and her family. Winifred, as a single woman, was in great demand by her family whenever there was a crisis, ( by Vera as well). This is one of the aspects of a single woman's life that comes through very strongly. Although Winifred had work of her own, she was expected to drop everything whenever she was needed elsewhere. Because this book was written by a close friend, it doesn't have the objectiveness of the recent biography of Winifred by Marion Shaw. However, this is outweighed by the personal knowledge the author brings to her subject, and the love with which it is written.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories of a Fantastic Friend, 18 Nov 2009
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This review is from: Testament of Friendship: The Story of Winifred Holtby (Virago classic non-fiction) (Paperback)
Unfortunately, Winifred Holtby is not well remembered today, even in her home country. The woman who wrote this book, Vera Brittain, has scarcely fared better, despite outliving Holtby by more than thirty years. This is a shame, because they are both worth remembering for numerous reasons. I was deeply moved by Brittain's "Testament of Youth," but if possible, I loved "Testament of Friendship" even more.

Winifred Holtby was a novelist, journalist and human rights activist who was active in the years between the wars. Her life was taken by Bright's Disease in 1935, when she was only 37 years old. In the short time she was here, however, she made her mark, authoring several well-received books, including the classic "South Riding," having a distinctive effect on the publication "Time and Tide" and, most importantly to those who loved her, being an amazing friend to countless people from all walks of life. The disparity of lives in South Africa was a problem especially troublesome to her, and she spent most of her money and energy trying to make her complacent, prejudiced countrymen see reason at a time when it was more convenient to turn a blind eye.

If Holtby had been more comfortably saying "No" to all the requests she received in the course of her professional and private life, she might have lived longer and had a more comfortable life. As it happened, however, she found it very difficult to refuse a plea for assistance from the friends and strangers who constantly found their way to her door. Vera Brittain was her closest friend, and became her biographer. In these pages, Brittain tells us what a singular, fascinating woman Winifred Holtby grew to be, and how much poorer the world is for her loss.

Vera Brittain is a brilliant writer. Her ability to bring people to live through the use of language is admirable, and her pain, still so fresh (Holtby had only been gone four years at the time of the book's release) is palpable. She was also gifted in her choice of Holtby's poetry, letters and fiction in order to express just what we had lost in her passing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Meet the author, 20 Sep 2010
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I felt I was sitting with Vera Brittain as she wrote her masterpiece 'Testament of Youth' as well as appreciating her deep friendship with Winifred Holtby. I enjoyed their struggles to getting started with their chosen career of being novelists.
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