Thursday, November 6, 2008

82. Nella Last's War

There is so much to like about this book that I am almost having a hard time writing about it.  For one thing Nella Last is one of the most eloquent writers I have ever seen.  She says in one part that if she had been clever enough she would have liked to write books.  Well I beg to differ with her - she is most assuredly clever enough.  Like you I am impressed that the British Government had the time to put together a project like the Observation Project.  They were incredibly lucky to catch Nella Last in the wide net they cast to find "ordinary" people to contribute their actual experiences in the form of a diary.  Aside from some reallhy eloquent writing what comes through to me is the breath taking honesty with which she bares her soul when she discusses her reactions and feelings as the war goes on. From all she writes of her crafts projects that she has turned into assisting in the war effort that she always had been a very creative person as well as sensitive and caring.   I would very much like to see the DVD and also there is a sequel coming out called Nella Last's Peace where presumably she continues her diary through the post war period.

One of the passages she wrote that I flagged as I read through the book is where she discusses how her work with the W.V.S. and various other projects  has changed her.  It gets more and more evident as you read through that while she has some affection for her husband (they have been married about 30 years) she has very little, if any respect for him as a person.  In fact, in the whole entire book she never once refers to him by his name - always as my husband.  Any way this passage struck me:

"When she had gone out, my husband said, 'You know, you amaze me really, when I think of the wretched health you had just before the war, and how long it took you to recover from that nervous breakdown.' I said, 'Well, I'm in rhythm now, instead of always fighting against things' - but stopped when I saw the hurt, surprised look on his face.  He never realises, and never could, that the years when I had to be quiet and always do everything he liked, and never the things he did not, were slavery years of mind and body."

And from page 195 - this made me laugh  - "As I walked I junketed off in my mind on a gay road of 'what I'd like to be next time I came".  I think I'd like to be a man and have the freedom to go to the far ends of the earth, to do things and see places, to go where few, if any, have travelled and be clever enough to write about it."

And the last bit I am going to bore you all with "The countryside was a painted glory of crimson and gold and green, so heartbreakingly lovely and it was impossible to believe that in the South - our South - there was death and destruction.  I wonder if everyone has the queer disbelief that I have so often.  And will keep it until bombs come and work havoc in Barrow, and I've seen destruction and death for myself?  I feel as if between me and the poor Londonpeople there is a thick fog, and it is only at intervals that I can believe it is our own people - not Spaniards or Dutch or French."

I cannot thank you enough Kathy for recommending this book.

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