Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nella Last in the 1950's

"I can never understand how the scribbles of such an ordinary person, leading a shut-in, dull life, can possibly have value'. So wrote Nella Last in her diary on 2 September 1949. Sixty years on, tens of thousands of people have read and enjoyed the first two volumes of her diaries, written during World War II and its aftermath as part of the Mass Observation project, and the basis for BAFTA-winning drama "Housewife 49" starring Victoria Wood. This third compelling volume sees Nella, now in her sixties, writing of what ordinary people felt during those years of growing prosperity in a flourishing and modernising Britain. Her diary offers a detailed, moving and humorous narrative of the changing experiences of ordinary people at a time that shaped the society we live in today. It is an account that's full of surprises as we learn more about her relationship with 'my husband' (never 'Will') and her fears of nuclear war. Outwardly Nella's life was commonplace; but behind this mask were a lively mind and a persistent pen. As David Kynaston said on Radio 4, she 'will come to be seen as one of the major twentieth century English diarists'.

What I Can Tell You:
I didn't fly through this book. It didn't hold my attention nor did I long to read it when I wasn't BUT, I found it very thought provoking. Nella kept a diary much of her life like a lot of us and wrote about the goings on in her life. I imagine that this is what my grandmother's diary would have read like if she had taken the time to put her thoughts down. To write in detail the daily life she led.

My favorite parts of the book were in the food details and how she talks about her husband. Such an odd relationship. So fascinating in how they skirt around certain issues not taking the liberties we take today with each other. There is a cordiality about how you dealt with people Not inserting yourself or sharing too much.  

Very interesting but not a quick read for me.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Nella Last in the 1950's for my honest opinion.

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