Author(s): Alexander, Eileen,
Date of Publication: 30/04/2020,
Pagination: 496 pages,
Imprint: William Collins,
Published By: HarperCollins Publishers,
Book Classification: Letters, Second World War
With the intimacy and wit of a Second World War Bridget Jones, Eileen Alexander offers a portal into life during the Blitz:
- The sex, joys and cruelties of young love - for Eileen with a man who had just inadvertently involved her in a car crash, for her friends with some less-than-honourable specimens
- The frustrations of coming of age in an era 'suspended between an unborn tomorrow & dead yesterday'
- The tragedies of rationed textiles ('apropos French Knickers & Respectability ... You've no idea what a lot of difference a bit of elastic can make'),
With Eileen, a Jewish woman in her twenties crackling with intelligence, we sink into the reality of wartime London - particularly as it was lived for women. She is hilariously caustic about colleagues and political figures, confessional to the gossipy and emotional extremes, and brilliantly frank on the feeling of derailed hopes and ambition.
Above all, these letters - rescued from oblivion by a chance eBay purchase - tell an unbelievable love story. This is a one-of-a-kind chronicle, seared with the pain of loving a man away at the front and the terrible uncertainty of war. 'I wonder what anyone would think if they suddenly came across my letters to you & started reading them in chronological order?' Eileen wrote in 1941.
'I think they'd say "This girl never lived till she loved" - and it would be true, darling.'