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Customer Review

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rare Gem of a Novel, 29 Sept. 2009
This review is from: Henrietta's War: News from the Home Front 1939-1942 (The Bloomsbury Group) (Paperback)
Henrietta's War actually started out as columns in Sketch. Dennys was an artist who has many successful collections though once married and a mother in the late 1920's her life became a domestic one in the English countryside and so needed something to take her frustrations out on. Out came Henrietta's wartime letters to her `childhood friend' Robert who is `out on the front' and eventually became published as a collection and a novel in the form of this wonderful book.

Henrietta is a `doctors wife' (which all the local women think is very important in a slightly unconvinced way) to Charles and mother to Bill and Linnet living in Devon. As we meet her World War II is raging though where she lives the only real way that war is effecting them is the rations and `people are talking cockney up and down the high street'. Having home help she spends most of her time trying to join in the War Effort, joining local clubs, doing good, gossiping with her friends (wonderful characters like the bossy Lady B and Mrs Savernake and the flirty Faith who `The Conductor' is in love with) sunbathing on her roof, writing letters to Robert and getting a lot of bed rest.

For some people the war wasn't all bombs and terror, for some in the middle of nowhere it must have felt somewhat removed in many ways and Dennys addresses this. She also looks at how these people lived, admittedly in a comical tongue in cheek way, when the greatest crisis they had was not having enough sugar to make marmalade for the villages `Marmalade Week'. We see how the villagers coped and in some ways continued as normal, or as normally as they could, having jumble sales to raise money, joining drama clubs and even at one point getting arrested as Henrietta does.

Most war novels focus on the awful things that happened during that time, what Dennys does with these fictional letters is try and see the light in these dark times and to look for a way to entertain people during the difficulties with laughter. I haven't smirked, giggled and laughed out loud at a book so much in quite sometime. If you love books by Nancy Mitford, or that show WWII from a different view point, or have you laughing out loud on public transport, or like books set in villages that house wonderful quirky characters (or all of these) then this is most definitely a book for you. I am so pleased that this gem has been brought back and into the mainstream for people to enjoy.
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