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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spellbinding!
In a time when families were being ripped apart, friends and their children were being killed and you didn't know what the future would bring Nella Last detailed every emotional day. My heart went out to her and women like her, who must have wondered what was happening to the world. Apart from detailing everything from recipes, shopping lists and her work at the centre...
Published on 20 July 2007 by TJerram

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10 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review of Ella Lasts war
We read this at the book group to which I belong and all enjoyed it and brought back vividly a period that we all remembered although we were only small children at the time. Ella came over as a very strong person but we felt somewhat unkind to her husband and over indulgent to her sons. It was interesting to hear an interview given in Australia by her younger son who...
Published on 29 May 2009 by Carol Mackenzie


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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This will make you think, 12 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' (Paperback)
Born in 1954 the only thing I can recall of post war years was sweet rationing! Nella's diaries are a poignant reminder of how things were on a daily basis. Extremely well and sensitively edited, this is a good read, emotional rollercoasters on every page.I can thoroughly recommend this to anyone who wants insight on how it was, very telling. Well written as well. Excellent.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories of a WW2 witness and a lovely mum, 27 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' (Paperback)
Nella was an excellent writer but overall a warm human being and a lovely mum. She has the ability to bring World War 2 close to you. She also brings you into a world long gone, full of nostalgia about the old times. If you think that Housewife 49 was brilliant, and it certainly was, the book is ten times better. Fully recommendable.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Ordinary Woman living through an Extraordinary time., 9 Feb. 2008
By 
laineyf "widnes" (warwickshire) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' (Paperback)
This is a book that I really enjoyed. Nella Last is an ordinary housewife aged 49 in the second world war, and it is the story of her everyday life, and how the war affected it, and how she coped. I have total admiration for the people who lived through world wars, in whatever capacity, whether military or civilian. I think that we really don't appreciate their efforts enough, and speaking for myself, I really don't know very much about what it was like in war-time, other than what I have read or seen on tv. I empathised with her so much when her boys went to do their military service, and she tried to keep a 'stiff upper lip' while quietly breaking her heart. I loved the fact that she didn't just allow herself to be dominated by her husband, that she found her niche in the shop and the canteen, and she never lost sight of what she thought was important. These people went through so much, yet never lost their sense of humour, or their ability to make the best of a very bad situation. It is a great read, and a marvellous insight into the British personality, I feel. I wonder how Nella Last would feel, knowing that her 'scribblings' as she called them, were being read avidly 60 years after the war, and appreciated and enjoyed by people whose lives would be so altered had the outcome of that war been different.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic!!, 3 Jan. 2007
This review is from: Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' (Paperback)
This war time diary is a riveting account of everyday domestic life as seen through the eyes of a housewife, Nella Last, whose personality shines through the pages; giving a unique insight into the realities of life as experienced on the Home Front. This book is moving, credible and also funny at times, I would totally recommend it to anyone of any age. I had it as a Christmas present and read it from cover to cover in two days, I thoroughly enjoyed every single word!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nella's take on war, 24 Mar. 2009
This review is from: Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' (Paperback)
This is a fascinating book - one woman's acount of what families went through in World War Two. It is the little details that makes it so readable - the trips out they took to the Lake District, her parcels she sent to her son and the food she prepared. It's amazing with rationing on what nutritional meals she managed to prepare and what she put in the picnics they took on their trips.
This is a pick-up-put-down diary - you never lose the thread.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How Freeing a War Can Be, 5 Aug. 2009
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This review is from: Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' (Paperback)
Nella Last took part in the Mass Observation Project during World War II, a groundbreaking program in which British people were asked to maintain diaries discussing their daily experiences. She wrote diligently for more than thirty eventful years. Nella Last's War concentrates on 1939-1945 and in doing so focuses on a woman blossoming, starting at the age of 49, into an independent, free-thinking spirit.

The War offered Nella a chance to do useful work that made a difference in the world; the closing pages of the book show a bit of melancholy as her world threatens to become smaller again, limited to knitting in the living room and only going where her husband wishes to go. Watching Nella deal with her newfound independence and, delightfully, putting her foot down with regard to her personal space and happiness, is interesting in the extreme. I was also fascinated at how she was able to make do with so little, and how impatient she became with those who whined about their "problems" while others lost homes, family members and lives.

Nella is funny, intelligent, resourceful and kind. She would have been a marvelous friend to turn to in times both good and bad. Thanks to the evocative way in which she writes about her home, her family and her beloved Lake District, I feel as if I were there with her. She often says "I am not smart." I fervently disagree - she may not have realized her own intelligence, but it shows bright and beautiful on every page of Nella Last's War.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than the TV adaptation, 10 April 2009
By 
Jenny Stacy (Hampshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' (Paperback)
Having read the second book based on her 'mass observation' diaries - Nella Last's Peace - and loved it, I was keen to see if this matched up to Victoria Wood's tv adaptation of it. Actually it was better. There's quite a lot in the book that was left out in the TV drama. And as you warm to Nella Last's open, warm personality you want the book to never end.There is a lot to relate to in this time of recession. People counting their pennies and using their imaginations to make plain food more appetising. I eked out the last few pages. Now I want to read more of these 'mass observation' diaries written by ordinary people recording remarkable events during a unique time in our history.Ideally you want to read this book swiftly followed by the second book Nella Last's 'Peace'. Apparently she would love to have been a published writer. What a shame she died before these books were published.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiration!, 28 May 2009
By 
Donna Wilber (Derbyshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' (Paperback)
I bought this book because I loved Victoria Wood's 'Housewife, 49', and knew it had to be good. It's not good, it's fabulous.
Nella Last is an inspiring figure. She seemed to be able to conjure up a nutritious, hearty meal with nothing more than a carrot and some lentils. She created wonderful clothes and toys from scraps of fabric other people were throwing out. She could find a use for everything and, since I started reading the book I haven't thrown anything away - I can't bear the idea of waste.
She was also a very perceptive person; passages of her diary seemed to accurately predict what would happen to Britain after the war.
I've been raving about this book to anyone who will listen - I intend buying copies for everyone I know.
Read this book - you won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating insight, 25 Mar. 2013
By 
Mr. G. Lonsdale (Lampeter) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' (Paperback)
Once into this book, I found it compelling reading. This diary is truly impressive - portraying not just the day to day issues which affected Nella, her family and her community on the home front, but also commenting on the progress of the war with remarkable understanding of the big picture. She writes simply yet eloquently and gives us a fascinating insight into the class conscious and male dominated society of the day, how suffocating she found married life, the liberating effect the war had on her and the fact that there would be no turning back afterwards. The world had changed.

My only regret is that her diaries for 1944 and the start of 1945 were lost - so there's a frustrating gap at key stage when the fortunes of war were changing. What a tragic loss that is.

Nella is a character I've warmed to. She's opinionated and not frightened to commit to paper her views which are sometimes hilariously, outrageous by today's PC standards. I guess she didn't think anyone would be interested in her "scribblings" - if so, how wrong she was. They're an incredibly valuable record of social history and a very good read.

I've bought her diaries covering the periods after the war. I haven't started them yet, but I'm confident they'll be equally illuminating and enjoyable
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Read., 6 April 2010
By 
J. Cook "Anna" (London) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' (Paperback)
The further I read into this truly wonderful, captivating book, the more I found myself liking Nella Last - she comes across as a warm, articulate and intelligent woman, who sometimes also seemed a little ahead of her time.
These diaries give you a real sense of what wartime life was like for everday, ordinairy people that you couldn't possibly get half so well from a television documentary. Although I knew that many of the larger cities were bombed, I didn't realise that smaller places, such as Barrow-in-Furness were affected so badly. This book covers the many stories of the people who lived in this town or were just passing through that Nella came into contact with, and the poignancy of some of their situations often left me wondering what happened to them. Of course the main star of the book is Nella herself and she is someone I would have really have loved to have met.
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Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49'
Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' by Richard Broad (Paperback - 16 Nov. 2006)
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