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How Freeing a War Can Be,
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.