The Wartime stories of Mollie Panter-Downes

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.

4 responses to “The Wartime stories of Mollie Panter-Downes

  • hannahstoneham

    Thanks for sharing a lovely review. I read the stories earlier this year (and reviewed them on my blog) and entirely agree with you that they some how all end up being more than you expect at the beginning. Lovely. Also – I like your point about the stories beig chronological. i did not think about it at the time but that is quite true – it made them even more enjoyable.

    Wonderful to read this post on a sunny Friday morning –

    Thanks and bon weekend!


  • LeaningSun

    I did enjoy them very much. I didn’t notice until about half way through that they were in chronological order. I”m glad you enjoyed them too. I’ll pop by to see what you thought1

  • Nymeth

    This is one of the books I’m saving for Persephone Week, and I’m so looking forward to it. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it so much!

    • LeaningSun

      I’m now trying to figure out a way to get my hands on her peacetime collection of stories and super excited for Persephone Reading Week!

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