Among the Bloomsbury Group books I was working my way through, Mrs. Tim of the Regiment by D. E. Stevenson was another one I had high hopes for, after picking it up at the library. Unfortunately, it was somewhat boring to me, and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I might.
The book is written in the style of a diary — based on the author’s actual diaries — kept by “Mrs. Tim,” the wife of a military man in the UK. She writes about everyday things, as well as what it’s like being married to the military, so to speak, especially as the family is uprooted and sent to Scotland.
I sometimes like reading about everyday things, but in this case, I wasn’t all that interested, possibly due to the behavior considered normal at that time. Tim doesn’t seem like the nicest of husbands, and is wife seems to cater to his every whim. She is essentially a housewife, but she has hired help to do the cooking and cleaning and raising her children, so I don’t know what she does other than organizing everyone.
Very little seems to happen in the book, aside from some silly drama here and there, but it’s not really that dramatic in and of itself. I read the whole book, and yet I didn’t feel like I got much out of it, so I don’t know that I’d recommend it. (Or, presumably, the other books in the series.)
I read the first Henrietta’s War book earlier this year, and I liked it well enough. Though it was a sequel, I didn’t feel like I missed a lot, but I did want to read the first book, just in case.
Henrietta’s War: News from the Home Front, 1939-1942 by Joyce Dennys is a series of letters written by Henrietta, a housewife in England, to her childhood friend who is fighting in WWII. Henrietta writes about everyday things, per her friend’s request, and it shows a different side of the war, especially in a smaller town. Rationing and other preparations are becoming common, and Henrietta writes about how the people in town react to this new way of life.
Oddly, I almost didn’t like this volume as much as the second one, and I ended up wondering about characters not mentioned until the latter book. It’s still a nice book though.
I don’t remember how I’d first heard about A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka, but I hadn’t looked into it at the time. I found it at the library, after looking for books about people from Eastern Europe or Russia, I think, and it turned out to be a decent read.
The book focuses on two somewhat estranged sisters living in England, which is where their parents emigrated to from the Ukraine before the younger one was born. They end up working together to try and prevent their widowed father from marrying a Ukrainian woman much younger than him, for fear that she’s trying to take advantage of him to get a British passport.
Interspersed with the main story are segments from a book their father is writing, with the same title as the novel itself. The passages are sometimes connected to the story, though I got a little tired of them after a bit.
All in all, the story was interesting, especially as we see how the family conflict changes the sisters’ relationship and their view of other people. A little slow in parts, but, still, an interesting book.
After giving up on several books that just weren’t that good, I was glad to receive a copy of Henrietta Sees It Through: More News from the Home Front 1942-1945 by Joyce Dennys in the mail, as part of the LibraryThing Early Reviewers program. I’m a bit behind on reviewing some of the other books I’ve gotten recently, so I decided to start this one right away.
Written as letters to a friend fighting in Europe during WWII, “Henrietta Sees It Through” follows Henrietta Brown, her family, and friends through the trials and tribulations of wartime England. However, it’s a lot lighter than most WWII books I’ve read recently, including amusing illustrations throughout, and it focuses on some of the everyday things that changed at this time.
I thought this was such a sweet book, and it felt slightly reminiscent of P.G. Wodehouse, though Henrietta and her friends are not quite as mischievous as Bertie Wooster and his friends. It’s a very enjoyable read, even if you’ve not read the first volume, as I hadn’t. I plan on looking for that first volume, as well as the other books in this collection from Bloomsbury Group.
Freddy and Fredericka by Mark Helprin is a unique story, following the (fictional) British royal couple Freddy and Fredericka as they blunder their way into the tabloids, doing things that don’t reflect well on the monarchy. As a result, they must make up for their missteps by going on a quest, winning over the people of America without revealing who they are and without any resources to do so.
It’s a strange sort of book, and a bit hard to describe if you don’t quite see the premise for yourself. The writing was a bit heavy though, and I often felt like I was getting tangled up in all the detail, especially when the author got a bit philosophical about what was taking place. Despite this, I pressed on, and I found the book to be rather enjoyable overall, though it did take some work to get through.