Skip to main content

Review: Henrietta's War: News From the Home Front, 1939-1942, by Joyce Dennys

Pages: 158

Original date of publication: 1985

My edition: 2009 (Bloomsbury Group)

Why I decided to read: I’m trying to read all of the Bloomsbury Group reprints

How I acquired my copy: Bookdepository, June 2010

Henrietta’s War is a novel told in epistolary format. Henrietta is the wife of a doctor in Devon, living in a “Safe Area” during World War II. Her never-reciprocated letters are to an old childhood friend, “Robert” on the war front, to whom she narrates the minutiae of her life at home. Her letters are full of tales of her neighbors: Faith, a flirty young woman who enjoys showing off her legs; Lady B, who writes letters to Hitler (As Henrietta says, "She says it has never failed to give her a good night's sleep. I think her great-grandchildren will enjoy those letters, don't you?"); Mrs. Savernack the village's local Committee Woman; and others, including Charles, Henrietta’s sensible husband, who puts up with his wife’s sarcastic sense of humor with an incredible amount of patience.

This is a short novel; it only covers the first half of the war, from 1939 to the end of 1941 (a copy of the second volume of Henrietta’s letters, also reprinted by the Bloomsbury Group, is sitting on my TBR shelf). Henrietta’s letters are warm, witty, and funny. There’s something about the tone of this book that’s very English and patriotic; and our middle-aged heroine regales us with tales of sitting on sewing bee committees, dealing with the people from London who invade every summer (and say things like, “you people down here don’t understand how the war really is”), gardening with lumbago while wearing a hot water bottle on her back, and going to court for showing a light during a blackout.

All of the people in the village jump off the page, and are a delight to read about; even Henrietta’s dog, Perry, is a vibrant character in the book! The war itself isn’t a major part of this book, but it deals more with how average English people deal with the war, even in a place like Devonshire. In many ways, it reminds me a lot of Good Evening Mrs. Craven, by Mollie Panter-Downes, a collection of short stories about average Britons during the war. Henrietta’s War is a book that’s just as enjoyable, and highly recommended; I found myself laughing out loud in many places. I read it in one sitting, and I’m eager to read the further adventures of Henrietta in the follow-up, Henrietta Sees it Through.


Danielle said…
I've only read one of the Bloomsbury Group books and only because I read a different edition a while back. That said I have a stack of them, and I think I'd like to start with this one!
Marg said…
I own this one.

I am so tempted to buy the whole collection just because they look so pretty!

Popular posts from this blog

2015 Reading

1. The Vanishing Witch, by Karen Maitland
2. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
3. Texts From Jane Eyre, by Mallory Ortberg
4. Brighton Rock, by Graham Green
5. Brat Farrar, by Josephine Tey
6. Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert
7. Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy
8. A Movable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
9. A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf
10. Other Voices, Other Rooms, by Truman Capote
11. Maggie-Now, by Betty Smith

1. Middlemarch, by George Eliot
2. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
3. Nerdy, Shy, and Socially Inappropriate, by Cynthia Lee
4. Music For Chameleons, by Truman Capote
5. Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious
6. Unrequited, by Lisa Phillips
7. Brideshead Revisited, by Evelyn Waugh
8. A Lost Lady, by Willa Cather

1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
2. Love With a Chance of Drowning, by Torre DeRoche
3. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
4. Miss Buncle's Book, by DE Stevenson
5. One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garc…

2016 Reading

1. The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair
2. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum
3. The Awakening, by Kate Chopin
4. Liar: A Memoir, by Rob Roberge

1. The Forsyte Saga, by John Galsworthy
2. Girl in the Woods, by Aspen Matis
3. She Left Me the Gun, by Emma Brockes
4. Because of the Lockwoods, by Dorothy Whipple
5. The Chronology of Water, by Lidia Yuknavitch
6. To Show and to Tell, by Philip Lopate

1. Fierce Attachments, by Vivian Gornick
2. Too Brief a Treat, by Truman Capote
3. On the Move: a Life, by Oliver Sacks
4. The Go-Between, by LP Hartley
5. The Art of Memoir, by Mary Karr
6. Giving Up the Ghost, by Hilary Mantel
7. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou
8. The Great American Bus Ride, by Irma Kurtz
9. An Unquiet Mind, by Kay Radfield Jamison
10. A Widow's Story, by Joyce Carol Oates
11. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder
12. The Liar's Club, by Mary Karr
13. An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard
14. So Sad Today, by Melissa Broder

Review: Forever Amber, by Kathleen Winsor

Pages: 972Originally published: 1944My edition: 2000 (Chicago Review Press)How I acquired my copy:, 2004

Forever Amber takes place in the 1660s, immediately follwing Charles II's ("the Merry Monarch") return of the Stuarts to the English throne. The book features Amber St. Claire, a young woman who starts out as a sixteen-year-old country girl, naieve to the workings of the world. She immediately meets Bruce Carlton, a dashing young Cavalier, with whom she has a passionate love affair in choppy intervals throughout the book. They have two children together, but Bruce won't marry her for the reason he tells his friend Lord Almsbury: that Amber just isn't the kind of woman one marries.

Upon following Bruce to London, he goes to Virginia, leaving her to fend for herself. What follows is a series of affairs and four marriages, with Bruce coming back from America now and then. Amber's marriages are imprudent: her first husband is a gambler, her second is…