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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These Wonderful Rumours!
May Smith was a young teacher, living with her parents in Swadlincote, Debeyshire, when WWII started. When war began she was twenty four and she was thirty by VE day. I point this out as May's age, her fluctuating weight and her marital status are all of great importance to her throughout these pages. In other words she was a lovely, normal young woman - preoccupied...
Published on 8 Nov 2012 by S Riaz

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing. Was there actually a war on?
This was disappointing in the extreme. Billed on the front cover as "A young schoolteacher's wartime diaries" it might as well have been "a very shallow girl plays tennis, eats food, two-times a couple of men and hardly mentions the war". We're treated to endless descriptions of hair dressing and tennis matches (at one point I wasn't sure whether "had a good set" referred...
Published 6 months ago by tonyinselby


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These Wonderful Rumours!, 8 Nov 2012
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S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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May Smith was a young teacher, living with her parents in Swadlincote, Debeyshire, when WWII started. When war began she was twenty four and she was thirty by VE day. I point this out as May's age, her fluctuating weight and her marital status are all of great importance to her throughout these pages. In other words she was a lovely, normal young woman - preoccupied too much with life to worry too much about world events. Although what happens to her throughout her war years obviously are recorded here, this is very much a story of the Home Front and of the way normal people coped with the abormal during that time.

Edited by her son (for whom I thank profusely for making these wonderfully entertaining, witty and fascinating diaries available) May's story begins in December 1938 and ends in 1945. May was a teacher during a time when her class size grew and grew - although miserably her holidays were shortened. She copes with evacuees and often a class twice the size of our national average. Her sarcastic wit (school is described as a "loathesome place") does not allow for too much sentimentality; but it is fair to say that teaching has its plus points if she is threatened with Fire Watching or Munitions work. May often uses capital letters to emphasise words and this works very well, somehow giving May a voice within the text.

Much of her entries relate to the two current men in her life - plus the clergyman who jilted her in the mid 1930's. The two beau's in question are 'Dougie Dear', who lives a fair distance away (you feel thankfully for May!) but provides fruit, vegetables, meat and eggs at intervals throughout the book. There is also the 'Faithful' (sometimes 'Faithless'!) Fred, who accompanies May to the 'flicks', tennis (where he has a rival in a married man May certainly does not encourage) and dances. As well as work, May's preoccupations lie with friends, tennis, English lectures, her love of the movies, books and theatre. She is lively, fun and delightfully brave. When told that invasion is imminent, she finishes outstanding correspondence, in order to be invaded with "a clear conscience". Staunchly patriotic, she nevertheless jokes about German bombers carrying home ariel photographs of Swadlincotes "impregnable defences" and when told that Hitler is planning to drop thousands of men over England in parachutes, she exclaims, "How awful!" and then finishes, "for them, I mean." In other words, despite being bombed on a daily/nightly basis at one point, hearing the "shattering news" of clothes being rationed and having her life turned upside down, she retains both her humour and her humanity.

This is an absolutely delightful account of Britain in wartime which I cannot praise highly enough. Filled with daily accounts of life carrying on regardless, war rumours (all treated with excellent scepticism - you feel Goebbels would have had a hard time convincing May of absolutely anything she was not sure about herself) and 'making do and mend', this is really entertaining, funny and sometimes moving. May often says she doesn't want to hear about the suffering going on around her, but she obviously feels things deeply and cares for her family, friends and neighbours. If you enjoy this, and I am sure you will, you might also like the fictional war diaries Henrietta's War: News from the Home Front 1939-1942 (The Bloomsbury Group) and Henrietta Sees It Through (The Bloomsbury Group). Lastly, I read the kindle edition of this book and it contained illustrations.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very different slant on wartime/////////, 6 Jan 2013
By 
Mrs. V. Bradley "bookaholic" (Kidderminster, Worcs., England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: These Wonderful Rumours!: A Young Schoolteacher's Wartime Diaries 1939-1945 (Hardcover)
May Smith's - 'A Young Schoolteacher's Wartime Diaries' is a wonderfully fresh insight into what it was like to be a young woman during the Second World War. May lived and taught in Swadlincote in Derbyshire at this time and instead of the diary entries being filled with doom, gloom and all the panoply of war, this was a breath of fresh air. We read about her many trips to the pictures, outings to buy clothes (despite the advent of clothing coupons). She always seemed to have too much month left at the end of her money and can't wait for the next pay day. She has a complicated 'love' life dangling two young men at the end of a string, unable to decide which, if any, she prefers. School days appear to be particularly difficult as far as she is concerned, and she comes over at times as being unduly harsh on her pupils - although I don't think this was the intention. During air raids shelter at Granny's house - not that she has an Anderson shelter but they take refuge under the stairs, with sometimes hilarious results. This is a great read, especially for anyone young or old interested in how life was lived by young people during World War 2.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An everydale tale . . ., 27 Dec 2012
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This review is from: These Wonderful Rumours!: A Young Schoolteacher's Wartime Diaries 1939-1945 (Hardcover)
It's a marvellous feat to make the everyday events of life in wartime Swadlincote so readable. The reader is taken into May Smith's world and shares her experiences. The writer has a natural style that suits her shrewd observations, and a ready wit. We totally understand her predicaments and the challenges she faces, against the background of a war that is coming closer. Her personality is likable; we are with her and on her side!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing. Was there actually a war on?, 9 Jun 2014
This was disappointing in the extreme. Billed on the front cover as "A young schoolteacher's wartime diaries" it might as well have been "a very shallow girl plays tennis, eats food, two-times a couple of men and hardly mentions the war". We're treated to endless descriptions of hair dressing and tennis matches (at one point I wasn't sure whether "had a good set" referred to hair or tennis). She moans continually about her job (perhaps someone who apparently intensely dislikes children should have found alternative employment). The only connection one feels with the Second World War is her repeated descriptions of air raids. The increasingly blasé treatment of raids by the narrator and everybody else is vaguely interesting.

Her treatment of her two beaux (Freddie and Dougie) is unpleasant. For most of the book Freddie seems to be held in amused contempt as a supplier of cinema tickets, "ices" and sweets (I thought sweets were rationed; something which is never mentioned) while the hapless Dougie is merely a supplier of poultry and fresh vegetables.

All in all the narrator appears to see the Second World War merely as a slight inconvenience - perhaps the point of publishing this was to show the British Public Soldiering On Regardless (yes, I do like her use of capitals), but if so finding a more sympathetic diarist, a more comprehensive Introduction and more copious notes would have been useful.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars wartime diaries, 28 April 2014
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ruralbuyer (Lincolnshire UK) - See all my reviews
I was disappointed in the book. May seemed to spend her free time playing endless tennis matches and listening to boring lectures. that's when she wasn't buying huge amounts of coats and dresses. Where did she put them all? I would rather have read of some war work in her free time, such as ARP, Red Cross etc. She seemed not to appreciate the job she had. At least she wasn't in a dirty, noisy, dangerous factory on long shifts six days a week, or working in all weathers in the Land Army. Not much time to buy coats if she had been. And what happened to rationing? However could all that food be available and May put on weight when so many were hungry a lot of the time unless they were fortunate enough to live on a farm?
I wasn't keen on the way she kept her boyfriends hanging on either when she wasn't interested. not much about the war either, not one mention if the Battle of Britain for example. A bit of a let down all in all.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 24 Nov 2013
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I found this book fascinating, recalling my mother's tales of her war. She was a similar age to May and somehow it brought back her stories. Having spent a lifetime in teaching I found May's diary riveting. She was obviously a feisty character and her words are powerful and humorous. I was sorry to reach the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Whilst I enjoyed this I can't help thinking it was a bit ..., 14 Aug 2014
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Whilst I enjoyed this I can't help thinking it was a bit too 'mediocre' for publication . I'm not knocking May at all here as my own diary is hardly thrilling but she didn't really get up to much so the book became a little boring towards the end and I found myself skipping entries .If it had been fiction the author would have had to add quite a lot more 'scandal' to please readers !

What came across to me was just how resigned people got to the war which is sad in itself .

It has made me very interested in May and her family though . I'd love to know about her marriage to Frederick and I really hope she found true happiness .
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly Enjoyable, 5 Mar 2014
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This was a good read and I found it hard to put down. Very comical in places, the diarist has a gift for wit (and sarcasm!). After the air-raids die down, the war is hardly mentioned except for the occasional momentous event, and life for May continues much as usual. Nevertheless, it gives the reader a good account of life during WWII and how people continued their every-day lives. Whilst not in the Nella Last league, it is an enjoyable read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars War time Values, 22 May 2014
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H. Lowe (UK) - See all my reviews
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As a fan of wartime diairies I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It reflects the values of young women, perhaps their naivety or innocence in World War II. May is a very determined young school teacher with strong opinions about her fellow man although she doesn't particularly appear like children! She strings two men along throughout the war and eventually settles down happily with one of them. A good holiday read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nice, 8 Jan 2014
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Good condition, good read, funny and heart warming diary. Great piece of social history. Imwould reccomendations it to read again
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