I really enjoyed this collection of stories and read many of them back-to-back. They were a nice glimpse into English life leading up to and during World War II. I liked how they were placed in chronological order so that you could feel the war progress. The first is dated 1939 and the last, one of her letters from London, dated 1944. What I liked most about them was that they always ended up being more than I expected and at many times were funny. Though quick they were full of the everyday experiences of regular people just trying to get along during war. These are stories of primarily women and their methods of coping through the separations of their families and many times not having enough. There are women who say good bye to their loved ones, who work together to provide supplies for soldiers, some are hungry and some house displaced neighbors. What is nice is to be able to see real people as they attempt to get on with life amid horrid and uncertain circumstances.
Favorites include Year of Decision where we see that danger in the battle field is sometimes preferred over housework. And in Goodbye My Love the tension and stress of leaving for war is built up so much and then the ending is wonderful, well wonderfully surprising.
Panter-Downes was a reporter for The New Yorker during the war. Here is a post from the Guardian’s Books Blog about Panter-Downes and her wartime work.