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Nella Last's War: The Second World War…

Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife,… (original 1981; edition 2006)

by Richard Broad (Editor), Suzie Fleming (Editor)

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2911438,609 (4.17)28
Title:Nella Last's War: The Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49'
Authors:Richard Broad (Editor)
Other authors:Suzie Fleming (Editor)
Info:Profile Books (2006), 320 pages
Collections:To read

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Nella Last's War: the Second World War Diaries of 'Housewife, 49' by Nella Last (1981)


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Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
I love this book, and its sequels. For some reason I don't quite understand, it just kills me. Well maybe not quite kills me, more the opposite, like maybe there is still some hope for the human race, as found in this dear faceless middle-aged ordinary WWII housewife in the north of England who somehow wrote it down, the whole dilemma of existence in a world gone mad. ( )
  ChrisNewton | Mar 18, 2016 |
This is a lovely book. Nella's voice is authentic, passionate, and always in key. Her diary depicts her wartime life in compelling detail. I recently finished The Last Lion, and this was a remarkable counterpoint. It also moves me to reread the wartime Angela Thirkell Barsetshire novels, to see a fictional account of the same kind of experiences. For anyone interested in wartime Britain, this would be of interest. ( )
  kokipy | Mar 23, 2014 |
I have read a number of theses Mass Observation diaries over the years and I think this is one of the best. It is also the book on which Housewife 49, starring Victoria wood is based. You get a very complete insight into Nella's life during the war and it is marvellous to see her becoming stronger and stronger as the time goes on, emerging from the timid little housewife of the start of the war, to a strong determined woman, nearer the end. We get a peek into her not terribly happy marriage, and her love for her boys shine's through. She continued to write her diary for something like 30 years and I really feel it was her salvation, as she now had someone to talk to and pour out her innermost feelings to, who would not judge her or make her feel stupid or small. An excellent read. ( )
  Glorybe1 | Oct 1, 2013 |
An amazing account of daily life in wartime England as recorded by a recruit of the Mass-Observation Project. Nella Last, a housewife living in the small seaside town of Barrow-in Furness agreed to keeping a diary of her thoughts and activities to fulfill the ambition of the project to put on record the voice of ordinary people. We are given a detailed, vivid picture of her well-kept middle-class home, her husband who was a joiner in the nearby shipyard, her two sons, her meal preparation and menus and of the daily miseries of coping with the blitz, rationing and a multitude of inconveniences.

Nella was a woman of keen sensitivity with a love of nature, animals and children. She was tolerant of the weaknesses in others and generous with her time. And she had the gift and love of writing. With little education or training, she was able to choose just the right words to express her feelilngs or describe a passing scene. She is a prime argument for writing being an outright gift rather than an acquired craft.

An important sociological contribution from her diaries is the revelation of the thinking of women and how it changed during the course of the war. In Nella's case, she was a very compliant housewife to a demanding and possessive husband. She stayed in the home, preparing tasty meals, tidied the house daily and even warmed her husband's slippers by the fire for when he came home at night.--all done with this being the expectation of what every wife should do and with little gratitude. During the war, Nella busied herself with war-work and discovered that she had a real knack for organizing and keeping the peace amongst sometimes fractious women. She spoke of the confidence it gave her and her inclination after the war to never return to the near serfdom of her former life.

An altogether priceless window on ordinary life during the days of England's "finest hour," by a woman who exemplified the spirit that kept England free. ( )
1 vote seoulful | May 1, 2012 |
The World War II diary of a housewife with young adult sons. Very good indeed, well-written, and interesting not just about the war but about general life in England at the time, including marriage and women's work. ( )
  annesadleir | Apr 20, 2012 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nella Lastprimary authorall editionscalculated
Broad, RichardEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Fleming, SuzieEditorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boyd, CaroleNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
In September 1939, housewife and mother Nella Last began a diary whose entries, in their regularity, length and quality, have created a record of the Second World War which is powerful, fascinating and unique. When war broke out, Nella's younger son joined the army while the rest of the family tried to adapt to civilian life. Writing each day for the "Mass Observation" project, Nella, a middle-aged housewife from the bombed town of Barrow, shows what people really felt during this time. This was the period in which she turned 50, saw her children leave home, and reviewed her life and her marriage - which she eventually compares to slavery. Her growing confidence as a result of her war work makes this a moving (though often comic) testimony, which, covering sex, death and fear of invasion, provides a new, unglamorised, female perspective on the war years.'Next to being a mother, I'd have loved to write books.' Oct 8, 1939
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When war broke out, Nella's younger son joined the army while the rest of the family tried to adapt to civilian life. Writing each day for the Mass Observation project, Nella, a middle-aged housewife from the bombed town of Barrow, shows what people felt during this time, providing a female perspective on the war years.… (more)

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