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What We’re Reading: Nella Last’s War

Post by Kate Fletcher
Posted April 28, 2014 in NoveList Bookshelf

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Nella Last's War

by Nella Last

What is it about?
This is a collection of diary entries written by a middle aged British housewife -- Nella Last -- during World War II.  It spans 1939 to 1945 from the day war was declared by Britain to the day victory was announced.  Nella and her family lived in Barrow-in-Furness, a town in Cumbria, which was heavily bombed because of its ship yards. She was also an active member of the Women's Voluntary Service.

Why I like it:
Rather than an action-packed account from the front lines, this book describes the experiences of an average citizen. Like others, Nella and her family dealt with rationing, air raids and other daily aspects of war. The pace is leisurely, and presents a thorough understanding of day-to-day life.  Nella's writing is informal and candid, often describing daily annoyances and problems with her husband, which allows the reader to identify with her hopes and anxieties. 

Interesting tidbit:  
Nella wrote these diaries for the Mass Observation Archive -- a project started in 1937 to record the daily life of British people.  Nella wrote for nearly 30 years, creating one of the largest diaries in the project.  There are two other books that include her writings: Nella Last's Peace and Nella Last in the 1950s.

"I'd recommend this book to…"
People interested in World War II history, and especially those who like memoirs and diaries.  

Recommended by Kate Fletcher, Cataloger at NoveList.