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16 of 17 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 20 months ago by S Riaz

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3.0 out of 5 stars Assessment
Not very impressed with it. I thought it might be an entertaining read but it is just someone's diary of general life. I gave up when war was declared! I might try to read it again sometime
Published 1 month ago by Aylesbury Duck


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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars These Wonderful Rumours!, 8 Nov 2012
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: These Wonderful Rumours!: A Young Schoolteacher's Wartime Diaries (Kindle Edition)
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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3 of 3 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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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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An everydale tale . . ., 27 Dec 2012
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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
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars wartime journal, 12 Dec 2013
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D. P. Duddington (NORTHAMPTON) - See all my reviews
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a fantastic book on the lines of housewife forty nine. it would make a verry verry good t v drama
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read, 24 Nov 2013
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This review is from: These Wonderful Rumours!: A Young Schoolteacher's Wartime Diaries (Kindle Edition)
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
4.0 out of 5 stars These Wonderful Rumours - an opinion from Nick, 7 Nov 2013
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This review is from: These Wonderful Rumours!: A Young Schoolteacher's Wartime Diaries (Kindle Edition)
The period when the diarist is describing the many air raids is quite revealing as I hadn't realised how regularly sirens went off where she lived in the country. Being an ex class teacher myself I liked her honesty about finding teaching a bit of a drag at times, although I hadn't realised how little holiday schoolchildren had during wartime.I lost interest a little when she was obsessing about her clothing problems and found her attitude towards her two suitors rather annoying, but it was refreshing to hear a different viewpoint of the war.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, 3 Mar 2013
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Thoroughly enjoyed reading this book which is a snapshot of day to day life in a small town in the Midlands during WWII through the eyes of a young primary school teacher. The style of writing is very entertaining, I found some laugh out loud moments which I think many female readers would enjoy, and how even though there is a war on she seems to find more importance in things that matter to a woman in her twenties, clothes, money, hairstyles, boyfriends etc. Also of interest are the effects that the threat of bombing has on her activities during the course of the war, and still living at home with her parents she does not complain too much about the hardships of rationing, except when clothing becomes rationed. It was also interesting to learn how life was before the days of television and how she amused herself in the evenings.

I found it difficult to put the book down, but one that you can either read through from cover to cover or just dip into at random. I must confess I am somewhat biased in that I have lived in the area for many years so mention of some of the places which were once familiar, i.e. shops, cinemas etc that no longer exist, added extra appeal, but feel that this book would be just as entertaining to a wider audience.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Assessment, 15 Jun 2014
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This review is from: These Wonderful Rumours!: A Young Schoolteacher's Wartime Diaries (Kindle Edition)
Not very impressed with it. I thought it might be an entertaining read but it is just someone's diary of general life. I gave up when war was declared! I might try to read it again sometime
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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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