By A. J. Pearce
What it’s about?
London, November 1941. Following the departure of the formidable Henrietta Bird from Woman’s Friend magazine, things are looking up for Emmeline Lake as she takes on the challenge of becoming a young wartime advice columnist. Her relationship with boyfriend Charles (now stationed back in the UK) is blossoming, while Emmy’s best friend Bunty, still reeling from the very worst of the Blitz, is bravely looking to the future. Together, the friends are determined to Make a Go of It.
When the Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit desperately needed female workers to the war effort, Emmy is thrilled to be asked to step up and help. But when she and Bunty meet a young woman who shows them the very real challenges that women war workers face, Emmy must tackle a life-changing dilemma between doing her duty and standing by her friends
What I think:
I loved Dear Mrs Bird and have been waiting for the paperback version of Yours Cheerfully to be published so treated myself for the summer holidays.
Emmy is still working at Woman’s Friend. And after the departure of Mrs Aberdeen, the advice column is having a make over and becoming Yours Cheerfully. Their female readers need a friend they can trust rather than another disapproving authority figure.
The magazine is also called to the Ministry of Information to become part if the propaganda machine focusing on encouraging women to join the war effort by taking up jobs in factories and other war time roles.
Emmy is keen to impress and show the magazine world that Woman’s Friend should be taken seriously so begins researching and writing a series of features on the women in the munitions factory.
The book, in its gentle and lighthearted way shows the very real issues faced by women during the WW2. There is a lack of appropriate childcare for mothers who are relying on family and friends, and a lack of support from the, often male, factory owners who see domestic dramas as a distraction.
Pensions and support for widows or wives of missing soldiers is a problem and driving women into poverty – which combined with rationing is causing genuine distress for families.
This sounds like it could be depressing- but believe me it isn’t. Emmy, Bunty and the women at the factory are good humoured and supportive of each other. This really does illustrate the wartime ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ spirit.
There’s also Emmy and Charles’ wedding to prepare for which is a wonderful celebration of love and friendship and a moment of real joy.
Emmy ends with a promotion and is brimming with ideas for the magazine , so I am looking for to the third book in the series.
If you fancy some WW2 historical fiction, but the usual battles or spies don’t appeal to you then this is a great, fun read. There’s lots of period detail and atmosphere but joy too.