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The Oaken Heart: The Story of an English Village at War Paperback – 3 Mar 2011

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Golden Duck (UK) Ltd; 4th Revised edition edition (3 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1899262032
  • ISBN-13: 978-1899262038
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 198,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

a marvellous account of the decency and bravery of our people in a quiet, unexceptional corner of England. Simon Heffer
--Sunday Telegraph 13.3.2011

'Her wonderfully authentic diary from 1940 vividly evokes the way country people coped.' --Val Hennessy in the Daily Mail

"a minor classic of the Second World War." --This England Magazine - Autumn 2011

"This inspiring and interesting read will leave you feeling warmed by a community standing strong in their fear and determined to do their bit." --The People's Friend - April 2011

"One can't help feeling awed by the courage and generosity of the real people populating this record, Margery Allingham included." --Dorothy L Sayers Society Bulletin - May 2011

"This stirring tribute to the people of rural England." --Mail on Sunday - 1.5.2011

"The book is a hymn to the strength of a village when threatened from outside." --W I Life - Nov/Dec 2011

From the Publisher

The Oaken Heart was published almost as soon as it was received in 1941. This fourth edition, published seventy years later, includes diaries, letters, editorial notes and recollections from some of the people still living in Essex who were children when Allingham wrote. A wealth of contemporary photographs should help readers today feel the reality of the ordinary village dwellers who Allingham came to admire so profoundly. In speaking so eloquently and accurately for her own village she reflects the experience of so many other communities at that extraordinary time.

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Format: Paperback
A thoroughly entertaining and instructive account of the lives and times of real people in desperate circumstances. The book should become essential reading for anybody interested in the onset of world war two.
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Allingham wrote the Oaken Heart with the aim of encouraging the USA to join the war. It didn't work, but what we have from that effort is a lively snapshot of what was happening in a village, like so many other villages, at a very difficult time. It is a fictionalised account, but written by someone who knew the English village inside out. I have been looking for a copy of this book for a long time, having read it as a library book, and now I have it I will treasure it. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know what was going on at home during the war.
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Margery Allingham has always been my favourite of the "Golden Age" crime writers, not least because the subtlety of her writing allowed her to change her books to reflect the changing times after WW2. "The Oaken Heart" is of course non-fiction, and well known as one of the best descriptions of ordinary English people in the first year or two of the war. It really is impossible to recommend it too highly, for its subject matter and for its writing. (Typically of her glancing humour, Allingham describes a woman as like a Shakespearean actress playing the Queen of Denmark "before all the trouble started.") And now there is this excellent new edition, with notes and some of Marge's letters and diary entries for the relevant period, all beautifully put together by Julia Jones, who wrote the Allingham biography "The Adventures of Margery Allingham". (Which I also highly recommend.) "The Oaken Heart" has been out of print or hard to obtain for a long time, so this new edition is very welcome indeed. It is so fascinating for any fan of Allingham's Campion novels to read the diary entries referring to her finishing "Traitor's Purse" through the Phoney War and then preparations for a possible German invasion.
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Format: Paperback
An immediate, first hand and fairly intellectualised account of a sussex village (Tolleshunt D'Arcy), as World War Two approaches and then subsumes the thoughts and activities of its small population. The gut-feelings as recorded by one of the residents, who also happens to be one of the countries foremost crime-writers, as invasion threatens are still particularly fresh over seventy years later.
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This is an unusual book in two ways; it is an unusual book for Allingham, who is known mainly for her murder mystery books, notably featuring Albert Campion. It is also unusual as a book in that it is almost a real time record of one village’s experiences of daily life in the Second World War. There is one suggestion that it was originally written for the American market, not just to earn its author money, but also help with the effort to persuade the U.S. public to join in the war effort. The narrative ends in February 1941 when it was far from clear how the war would progress yet alone end, and there is a sense of controlled fear that everything and everyone is still very unsafe. Invasion of this country by enemy forces was still, after all, a very real possibility.
The author was living in a large house in an Essex village in 1939, and the stories and experiences reflect the lives of those around her as war looked increasingly likely, people were evacuated to the village from London, the outbreak of war and the departure of men and women into the Forces. There is a small railway, a school, shops and all the small businesses and concerns linked to a mid century British village. There are characters who behave well in adversity, and the general tone is of resigned acceptance of the imminence of destruction, whether personal, local or national. Thus there is the urgency of gas mask distribution, the preparations for evacuated schoolchildren who turn out to be mothers and children, and the reality of bombs falling in the area if not immediately on the village itself. There are the daily practical concerns of a large influx of people who need not only housing but also feeding and clothing.
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Format: Paperback
A delightful autobiographical interlude from the Summer of 1938 to the Spring of 1941.It is in the epigrammatical style spread over a short period of time, that P D James later adopted in her similar autobiographical 'heart to heart' book 'Time to be in Earnest'. In an intimate matter -of- fact way Margery Allingham describes the impact of WW2 upon the lives and villages of her beloved piece of England, the coastal area of east Essex ,south of Colchester and is therefore a significant historical 'bird's eye' view perspective (in the heat of the moment so to speak) from the common man. Like her detective novels,the book holds the reader's close attention and is an able complement to her prolific series of crime mysteries for which she achieved renown and acclaim (and still so achieves) with a wide faithful readership of this popular genre.
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