A compelling WWII story, and a real departure from most books on war, as this one is a social history told through the civilians (and some soldiers) who lived through it. Alice, from Amherst, NS, Canada, mindful of the shortages in Britain, sent packages of staples and a few luxuries to British relatives who suffered through the blitz and the threat of invasion. She was doing her part to keep in touch with relatives on the other side of the Atlantic, as well as to alleviate some of the hardships caused by rationing, which lasted for some items until 1954. The fascinating letters (transcribed literally from original mostly hand-written correspondence) she received in return give us a woman’s perspective on the war. Although the letters often talk of family and difficulties of raising children in wartime, there are also very insightful accounts of the progress of the war itself and the politics surrounding it by intelligent, thoughtful women – especially Aunt Berta and cousin Helen. Berta’s letters are insightful and thoughtful, with a sophisticated turn of language, while Helen, also very literate, is more direct, speaking her mind in a razor-sharp, incisive and cogent manner. The story covers not only the run up to, and the war itself, but also the recovery that followed. An accompanying 15-year timeline (1935-1950), encapsulates the war on a global basis, illustrating the insidious nature of war, the treatment of Jews and other non-Aryans by the Nazis, and the widespread changes after the war as emerging countries strive for independence. A unique story narrated in a distinctive way by two authors, cousins, who grew up on opposite sides of the Atlantic.
Clare Willis Christie Clare was born one year after the close of WWII in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada; she is married to Dr. J. Brian Faught and, to date, has two step-children, six grand-children and a great-grandchild.Her early education was in the public schools of Amherst. Later Clare attended Dalhousie (Kings) University, Halifax, NS, graduating with a B.A. (Hon.) degree (1967), and a B.Ed. (1969) from Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB. She returned to Dalhousie Law School, graduating with an LLB in 1984.Her early teaching career involved a total of eight years at Sackville High School (Sackville, NB), New Options School for Dropouts and Metro Area Family Planning Association (Halifax, NS), and Sackville Heights Junior High School (Lower Sackville, NS). From 1979 - 81 Clare was the Resource Centre Coordinator for Stikine District, BC and Librarian for Cassiar School (Cassiar, BC). After graduating with her LLB, Clare articled and was admitted to the Nova Scotia Bar. From 1986-94, she was a lawyer with Kenneth A. MacInnis Associates and from 1994-2004 was proprietor of Clare Christie’s Law Office. Clare was also involved in writing and publishing for many years, publishing a chapter in Images of Ourselves: The Faith and Work of Canadian Women, compiled for the Ecumenical Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women in Church and Society, published by The United Church Publishing House, entitled “Letter to My Friends”. A year later, she co-edited with Mary O’Brien, Single Women: Affirming Our Spiritual Journeys (Bergin & Garvey, Westport, Connecticut and London, 1993) including her own chapter entitled “Affirming Myself: As Authentic Being, Friend, and Healer”. From 2011 forward, she has been a Community Editorial Board columnist for the Amherst New, a column relevant to Amherst published every five weeks. In 2014 thirty columns were privately published as Read About Amherst. In addition, Clare privately published the following: Amherst Shore Anthology (1999); Addition to Amherst Shore Anthology (2006); Edith Willis and Percy Atherton Families: Celebrating Swastika’s 100 Years 1908 – 2008 (2008), a role play “Grace McLeod Rogers: On the Move” in Rogers Reunion 2010 and the same title, standalone (2014), Me, Myself and I: to Age 4 (2013), and a novel, A Good Place: A Season in a Cottage Community (2014).
Born in 1945 just after the close of WWII in Liverpool, England, Carol’s early years would have experienced the impact of ongoing rationing and accounts of the Blitz through her family. She is married to Michael Wills and has two children and four grand-children. Her education was truly international and included the British Army School in Nanyuki, Kenya, the Victoria Nile School in Uganda, Saxenholme School in Birkdale, England, Dr. Williams School in Dolgellau, North Wales and the Sorbonne in Paris, France. She has an MSc from the University of Bath, England. Carol’s working life and career has been as varied and global in nature as her education, beginning first as a volunteer teacher on the island of St. Helena (South Atlantic) with VSO followed by many years with OXFAM, Great Britain, helping farmers and artisans in developing countries improve their livelihoods and access markets. From 1997-2005 she was the Executive Director of what is now WFTO (World Fair Trade Organisation). She also served on the Board of Shared Interest, the Fair Trade financial cooperative, from 2006 to 2014, is currently a Trustee of the development through trade NGO Twin and a non-executive Director of the Divine Chocolate Company. She continues to provide technical support to the Harvard University based WIEGO (Women in Informal Employmen tGlobalising and Organising). Carol is no stranger to writing as well, authoring many reports for Oxfam and the WFTO. She has also contributed to a number of books, such as writing the Foreword to World Crafts (London: Charles Letts); an appendix to Beads and Bead Makers: Gender, Material Culture and Meaning, edited by Lidia D. Sciama and Joanne B. Eicher, (Berg: Oxford and New York) entitled: “What beads mean to craft producers supported by Oxfam”. She was also quoted extensively in Fair Trade: Marketdriven ethical consumption by Alex Nicholls and Charlotte Opal (Sage, 2005) and again in 2006, in two chapters for the same title and publisher. She wrote two chapters of Business Unusual: Successes andChallenges of Fair Trade published by the Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Brussels, in cooperation withHIVOS in 2006. She is a co-author of Trading Our Way Up: Women Organizing for Fair Trade published
“It was a distinct pleasure to have the opportunity to read such a delightful account detailing the lives of fascinating and worthwhile individuals. Each letter-writer expressed her/his self so touchingly and lovingly, some eloquently and others with great feeling and honesty. Brought back memories to me of WWII!“ “What a gem Helen Williams is! So erudite, with a wonderful command of English and a remarkable grasp of the then current affairs & politics. A very perceptive woman.” “It’s an impressive compilation, beautifully put together. Stunning family social history. Can’t imagine any otherof the period being more gripping!”
Hugh Griffith, former Editor of Debates & Chief of Reporting Services, The Senate of Canada.
Pre-publication Comments from Advance Reading of Manuscript
“Read it last year. Loved it ... Should be taught on a local level. ... How you would be.” Judy MacGregor
“Privilege of reading book before. Wanted to hear it again. Fantastic ... Good feel for [the] average person.
Keeping letters [was]wonderful ... “Heroes who muddled through.” Hugh MacGregor “I wish you the best ... for this wonderful collection of letters ...” Allison Hirst, Senior Editor, Dundurn
“Personal spin is rare” Lynne O’Brien-Lines “Brave to expose [one’s] personal correspondence and lives. Boxes destroyed to maintain privacy. Personal nature intriguing.” Dave Van Zoost
“How everyday people coped. Coped well ... Really enjoyed it.” Barb Gilbert
“... how much Mum and I are enjoying the book - it’s absolutely fabulous and so interesting! ... it really is brilliant! I read a bit to Mum each day...and it’s hard to put it down - I absolutely love it - particularly [Jan’s] memories - bloody fascinating! ... it’s a fabulous accomplishment and something to be treasured. Fran (Ashcroft) Appleton,(“Mum” is Jean Ashcroft - see page 152 in this publication.)
“It’s fantastic!” [The letters are ... ] “a national treasure”. Michael Swift, former Assistant Archivist at the National Archives of Canada