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Dear Joan: Love Letters from the Second World War Paperback – 5 May 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (5 May 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845967062
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845967062
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 861,598 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Personal stories, especially those as compelling as Tony's and Joan's, are hugely important in putting a "human" face on the war" (Sir Peter Squire, Chairman of Trustees, Imperial War Museum)

"Touching" (Weekly News)

"Most enjoyable" (Dame Vera Lynn)

"A gorgeous book" (Anne Diamond)

"Wonderful . . . a tribute to the strength of love" (Vanessa Feltz)

Book Description

Extracts from the largest known surviving collection of love letters from the Second World War

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I had the pleasure of interviewing the author for the Imperial War Museum Sound Archive recently and in preparation read this splendid book. It consists of edited letters between Tony Ross, a navigator/observer flying in Beaufighters based in North Africa and flying missions over the Eastern Mediterranean/Aegean and his young 'sweetheart' Joan Charles left behind in England. It is a strangely touching love story of two people who barely knew each other falling in love by the medium of their frequent letters. From the initial polite exchanges they move on to explore each other's hopes and dreams, discovering that they shared a vision of how wonderful life could be if only the war would end and allow them to be reunited. There is little about the brutal reality of the fighting that Ross was involved in, but plenty detailing the fascinating detail of their daily lives. I found the sombre letter Ross wrote on 25 February 1944 - intended to be passed to Joan Charles only in the event of his death - quite moving, but could not help but laugh at the juxtaposition with a particularly mundane letter from Joan written the same day thanking him for some tinned fruit! There is a happy ending in that after numerous administrative postings Tony Ross returned unharmed to marry Joan Charles and seem to have lived in harmony until she died in 2006. This introduces a tinge of sadness which is underlined by the inclusion of one final letter written in 2009 by Tony Ross once more separated, this time permanently, from the love of his life. But my overall impression is of a life-affirming book and I prefer to celebrate their enduring post-war happiness together for sixty years. What more can any young couple hope for?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was a wonderful read and found Joan Charles's life during the war so interesting. Wish there was another diary of Joan Rice that could be published.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you believe that Britain went to war to show Johnny Foreigner that the things that really mattered in life were little lambs and primroses in the English spring hedgerows, then this is the book for you.

If you believe otherwise, avoid like the anthrax plague that British scientists considered unleashing on German cities, and then rejected for practical (not moral) reasons

The sincerity of the love between the RAF officer and Joan is not doubted, but this is not enough enough to sustain the book. There is a trying Mother in the background; there are un-acknowldged homo-erotic feelings for "Wing Commander", and the other RAF top brass who think Joan's fiance is doing a jolly good job in the Near East (including sitting heavily on the RAF mutinies that erupted post-1945).

And there is always good old England - lambs, primroses - and Joan, to sustain him, as he sits out another stinging sand-storm. But there is absolutely no insight into anything through-out the entire book.

In peacetime he and Joan loved England so much they eventually moved to France, the publisher's biographical note tells us. Presumably too many Johnny Foreigners had settled into post-war Britain. (Not sure what this makes the French...).

If I believed in the after-life I would have said that Peter Cook dictated this on high as a mickey-take. However, his brilliant 'After Myth of War' that he wrote for 'Beyond the Fringe' was far, far funnier and insightful.

The further we get away from the Second World War the more the unchallenged myths build up.

This really is first rate drivel. Save your money and buy a copy of 'Beyond The Fringe'.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8f50f3fc) out of 5 stars 1 review
HASH(0x8f8c7864) out of 5 stars Could have been more . . . 21 Jan. 2014
By Annie Pope - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
the letter writer was just a guy . . . not particularly gifted at writing, but this doesn't purport to be the great drama of its day. Just a bunch of letters from a soldier. I guess that could be eloquent in a way . . . but this isn't really.
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