It’s always a good sign when you miss a book once it’s gone, and I wished I could have stayed inside this one a little longer. Never has the word ‘heartwarming’ been more appropriate.
Set during WW2, Emmeline Lake is disappointed to find her new journalistic job isn’t as a chipper reporter, working up to War Correspondent; but as an admin assistant to the women’s advice columnist, Henrietta Bird, who dismisses nearly every genuine problem as “unpleasantness.”
I found the homely style a little awkward at first — was everyone really so ‘jolly upbeat’ in WW2? Isn’t it a little patronising? But I soon realised that getting beneath the veneer of putting on a good show and whatnot is really the heart of the book, and it’s actually very sweetly done.
It’s a gentle and moving book that celebrates female friendship and good-heartedness, while reminding us to be grateful for the everyday.
This strand is also packed with a knowing humour, from the throwaway - “I am a geriatric primigravida, but I don’t look it,” - to her description of labour, “Between the waves of disembowelling wrench the world is shining. I feel like Aldous Huxley on mescaline.”