Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Bookshelf: World War II London Blitz Diary by Ruby Thompson

I recently read a book that you, my dear readers, may also be interested in so I'm interrupting my Moving Target series to bring you my review from Goodreads:

World War II London Blitz Diary: A Woman's Revelations Enduring War and MarriageWorld War II London Blitz Diary: A Woman's Revelations Enduring War and Marriage by Ruby Thompson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This diary is a very illuminating look at what life during the London Blitz was like. Life-long diarist Ruby talks about both the external events of WWII and her personal experiences on a day-to-day basis living through the Blitz, as well as general family and society events and opinions. Being able to read something that was being written each day, without the benefit of hindsight as to what was historically significant, was very refreshing. The sheer repetitiveness with which the various air alerts each day are recorded gives you a real sense of what it might have been like - without going through the lack of sleep and shattered nerves, of course!

Ruby makes particular comment about how she fully intends her children to read the diaries some day so that they know a bit more about who she really was - the impact of various societal constraints meant she felt unable to truly be herself. This also gives the reader permission to experience her sometimes harsh comments about life and her husband without feeling that you are intruding.

The diaries have been edited by Ruby's great-granddaughter. She has let the content stand as is, and accordingly some comments will likely make modern readers cringe a bit, but thankfully there has been no editing to make the diary more dramatic, as a novelised version might have been. The copyediting could definitely be improved, for example there are a couple of sentences in two entries that were duplicates of other entries, and there are apostrophes where there shouldn't be. While Ruby's family members are listed at the beginning of the book, I felt it would have been more useful to the narrative to add these as footnotes or editorial parentheses as each new person (or place/issue of significance) was mentioned, to explain who they are and their significance in Ruby's life.

The content itself and the fact the diaries survive is a true gift to Ruby's descendants, and now to us as well. This is volume 1 of an intended 4-volume WWII set.


Victoria said...

Hi Alex!
Happy New Year and thanks for the review I so appreciate it. Just want to let everyone know that I have since republished both in print and kindle this volume so there are no longer errors or mistakes.

Alex Coles said...

Hi Victoria. Good to hear that those glitches have been fixed up. I'll be reading the second volume shortly.

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