Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Henrietta's War: News from the Home Front 1939-1942

Henrietta's War: News from the Home Front, 1939-1942. Joyce Dennys. 1985/2010. Bloomsbury. 176 pages.

October 18, 1939
My dear Robert,
It was good to get your letter and hear that you are in a 'perfectly safe place,' though I wonder how much of that is true and how much intended to allay the alarms of your Childhood's Friend. And why, when I and everybody else know that you are in France, must I address my letters to Berkshire? Well, well, I suppose They Know Best, and Ours Not to Reason Why, but I seem to remember that when I wrote to you in the last war I used to put "B.E.F., France," quite boldly on the envelope, thereby no doubt endangering the safety of the British Empire.

I have been wanting to read this book for a year or so now. And in many ways it did not disappoint. It's set in the country, in a small country village. The main character is Henrietta Brown, a doctor's wife. The book is told through a series of letters to her childhood-friend-now-a-soldier, Robert. The first book covers October 1939 through December 1941. (Yes, the cover says 1939-1942, but the truth is the last entry is dated December 31, 1941.) Many letters (or sketches, depending on how you want to view them) are accompanied by small black-and-white drawings. What does Henrietta write about? Well, life in the village, in the country. Everything from tea parties, church rumble sales, various "concerts," and other events--big and small--that concern everyday folk. Simple things like gardening, shopping, rationing, knitting, gossiping, etc.

The setting is definitely enjoyable. I was reminded of Agatha Christie, in a way, especially the Miss Marple series. Because these are set in a small country village, because the characters presented are so quirky. But there are no murders, no mysteries to solve. So the comparison isn't quite fair. I was also reminded, in a way, of Erma Bombeck. Though I admit it that is a bit of a stretch. It's just that Dennys' sketches of what it is like to live in a small country village, in a small community where everyone knows everyone's business, her focus on being a housewife, a mother, a 'good' neighbor and friend, well, it is the finding humor in the common, everyday dealings of life that made me think of Bombeck. True, the humor is sometimes more understated and subtle than Bombeck, but, there are many funny scenes in this one. Is the humor for everyone? Probably not. Some might fight it too quiet.

So I definitely liked it. I'm not exactly, exactly sure I loved it. I am very, very glad I read it. And I'd definitely recommend it to some of my friends. But if you're looking for action, action, more's not going to be for you.

Read Henrietta's War
  • If you like books set in England, especially if you like the period in which this is set, World War II
  • If you like epistolary novels 
  • If you like quirky characters and humor

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Jamie Gibbs 4:33 PM  

I like the method of telling the story through letters, and the way it conveys life at the time. Though I'm more of the 'blast 'em with magic bolts' kinda guy, it sounds like a good read :)

Marg 7:42 AM  

I have been meaning to read this book for ages! I love the way that the collection looks when you put them all together.

Kailana 8:20 PM  

I really want to read this!

hopeinbrazil 9:14 AM  

Thank you for highlighting this book. It definitely sounds like something I would enjoy.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP