Edited by Richard Broad and Suzie Fleming.
©1981, 2006 Richard Board, Suzie Fleming, and Falling Wall Press Ltd; (P)2007 BBC Audiobooks Ltd
The diary of English housewife Nella Last's life on the Home Front during WWII. Often, a very "every day" kind of life despite the turbulent times: her anecdotes of dodging bombs in the blitz, and Churchill's speeches on the wireless, are interspersed with instructions for making custard with rationed eggs and milk, and baby gowns out of old pillowcases. I'm old enough to remember women like Nella: strong women who got their families through the war like sergeant majors with "make do" attitudes. These sketches of Nella's everyday life are interesting, but more interesting to me are Nella's revelations about her strained marriage, her views on the changing relations between men and women, and her growing dissatisfaction with her traditional role. Nella is smart, resourceful and talented - the wistful undercurrent throughout the diary is Nella's awareness that, under different circumstances, she could have been much more than "Housewife 49".
This is the most interesting memoir I've read in a long time. Nella Last has a remarkable gift for living her life to its fullest, and an even more remarkable gift for capturing her experiences, thoughts and feelings on paper. Add the setting -- a British housewife struggling to deal with her life in WWII -- and it's a five star story, read by a five star narrator.
A great book, about amazing times in World War II in England. The homefront stories. Touching. Made me, again, admire the British people for their courage and ability to stand up to the disasters of the war.
The story is the real diaries of Mrs. Nella Last and I wish that the home office did not loose so many pages. Every word is a pearl and the lose of some chapters is very sad.
This is an interesting journal written by a wife and mother of young adult sons in WWII England. Her perspective is touching. It gave me a glimpse of what it must have been to live through a time of such fear and hardships. She never complains but is always concerned about her family and friends. Definitely a good read. I found this educational as well as an enjoyable read. I wish they had found the rest of her journal entries for those missing months in 1944, but that is the only downfall of this book, and certainly does not detract from it being 5 stars in my opinion
I really enjoyed this book. It was a slow start, but by the end I wished that I could have met the author. She was a neat lady and really did detail the average person's days during World War II. Really worth the listen.
I loved listening to books during my commute to work. Maybe I shouldn't have retired!
This is an interesting story of a time in history well known to everyone, but from the perspective of a housewife. This makes it more interesting because of the focus on matters that are not always discussed in other books or on TV in documentaries.
The reason I only give this book 3 stars is because of the narration. The person reading the book annoyingly switches between a normal speaking voice and whispering *very* frequently. Since I listen to books while driving, I can't be constantly adjusting the volume and so either the volume was so loud that the book was shouted at me or I missed half of what was being said.
Otherwise, this book presented a nice personal side of this time in English history.
Homemaker, English grad., passionate reader.
I am almost at the end of this book, and I have not enjoyed a book more than this one. The reader does an excellent job of bringing life to Nella Last's personal account of World War II. I found Nella to be a woman that I could easily identify with, even when I did not necessarily agree with everything she said or did. I thought she was too hard on her husband at times, but because of her narrative, I could understand why she felt as she did. The domestic information of day to day life was wonderful to hear about, and I felt that I was in the room with Nella and her friends though time and distance separate us. This is a must read both for history buffs and for individuals interested in women's studies. It was not boring at all, and I am sorry that it has to end, though I have already decided to listen to Nella Last's Peace after this and read the last in the series on my Kindle. My admiration for what women did in the 1940's has increased greatly by listening to this account, and I think it should be a part of American history classes in our schools and colleges.
If you ever wanted to feel what living through the second war felt like, this book is for you. Nella Last lets you feel and understand her world.
Nothing happens in this book but it is an excellent story to listen to before falling asleep. When you wake up and start listening again, you won't have missed a thing! Seriously, I loved listening to this to fall asleep. The narrators voice is so soothing and sweet. Hmm, I'm getting sleepy just thinking about it.
even though a portion is missing it was a great read, narrator good, but would like to know what happened during the time that no diary pages....
"Nella Last's War (Unabridged)"
This was a fascinating listen! It brought alive the changes to life that people (especially women) experienced during World War Two. All the day to day events were captured by Nella Last in her diary. She was also known as Housewife 49, in her role in the 'Mass Observation' project. Nella covered everything from a personal point of view,including her marriage, her fears for her sons away fighting in the war, her 'nerves',the bombings and the food rationings. I found it an honest, real-life authentic account of what life must have been like and loved the wonderful flashes of humour which balanced the grim conditions. Nella also had a good eye for observing the British social classes and their customs during this time! I was really sorry when it finished! But its the kind of audio-book, that you can dip in and dip out of,again and again and it made me laugh, cry and appreciate my Mum's generation. I listened to it mainly when cooking or ironing, it transported me to another time.
"Nella Last's War"
This is a beautifully written and vivid account of life in wartime Barrow in Furness. Nella Last gives a compelling account of the day-to-day detail of her life, the drama of bomb raids and her anxiety about family and friends (whose lives and mental stability are at risk). It is a glimpse of a now lost way of life: the efficient running of a home on a tight budget, rationing and the Women's Voluntary Service. Her writing is at times intensely visual - there are lyrical descriptions of nature and insightful descriptions of her night-time dreams. The Victoria Wood TV drama based on this book did the strong and fiesty Nella a disservice. I found this a compulsive read.
"one in a million"
it is hard to imagine anyone not falling in love with nella last. i certainly did. after the war years i listened to the peace years and found it stimulating as well, though not quite as wonderful as the first. not only is the book great, the reader does a superb job of bringing this woman to life. a cookbook? well, she does from time to time talk about what she served her husband or guests, but as far as i can remember, and i have listened to it twice now, the words measuring cup or tablespoon are never mentioned. the joy with which she describes her victory over the almost total lack of food variety available is contagious, at least.
she discusses politics, people, all kinds of people, her work, her volunteer jobs, her garden, her pets, her curtains, her sons and their lives, her grief over the loss of life for those who do not survive the war, her grief over those who just lose years of their lives due to serving in the war. her mourning over 'young people' and their difficult choices is one of the best descriptions i have ever read about the effect of war. in fact, that is what this book is about.
i bought it because i am currently reading books about survival, primarily women who survive difficult situations. trying to learn. this is one in a long list and this is at the top. if you are looking for a thriller, this isn?t one, nevertheless i was more involved in her existence than any other character i have read this year.
one of the main things that sets this book apart is her use of language. this is a woman who wanted to be a writer and could have been one if circumstances had been different. she often breaks out into the most beautiful prose.
as a social record you will never find a better book that describes with more truth what it was like to be an intelligent, feisty woman in those years, owned by husband and home, and still managing to love it all. bravo.
I almost didn't buy this title, due to the comments of one listener who said it was boring. I'm so glad I took the decision to decide for myself about Nella Last. This isn't just a dull everyday account of life in wartime, and although it does contain details of family meals, there is a great deal of comment on the events of the war as it was experienced outside the military or political ranks - by the so-called 'ordinary people'. It is insightful, intelligent, well written, funny and moving, and whilst it has been edited, and presumably generally 'tidied up', this is true of the work of pretty much any professional writer being published today. At one point, Nella Last comments she would have liked to have been a writer. I hope she realised, in the end, that she already was...
"A magnificant journey through the war"
A brilliantly narrated very well written and enlightening, I found it a great listen much more interesting than I anticipated it would be.
"Nella Last's war"
Spell binding, This is an absolute must listen too . I felt as if I was there with Nella, her words paint such clear colorful pictures of a woman's life after the war.
"really recommend this"
Both this and Nella Last's peace are fascinating and a priveleged insight into another persons life and thoughts. Even though it might not seem your kind of book try it!
"More than just nostalgia"
I found this book compelling reading/listening.History of WW2 became real and accessible,more so than in any history book but more importantly I witnessed Nella's growth in stature and purpose.Her generation clearly paved the way for my generation of 'libbers'.Excellent narration.
"An astounding personal account of WWII"
Heartwarming Informative Eyeopening
Nella Last is astoundingly perceptive about many political actions and their effects at the time. She values the necessity for forgiveness at a political and personal level. Nella demonstrates a wonderful discovery of herself and huge increase in self confidence during WWII Britain, although she is recovering from a breakdown she demonstrates huge personal resources to help herself, her family, friends and community through tough years. She brings great joy to everyone she touches.
Beautifully read and with an appropriate, yet clear, accent.
Nella's response to people who had lost loved one's during the war.
"Outstanding Narration makes the diary come alive."
The Narrator. She read the dairy so well that you believed it was Nella speaking, but the diary itself was a splendid listen, I wasn't expecting so much detail of her daily life & surroundings.
That's a difficult one, there are many, the one that stands out at this precise moment is when Cliff gave the letter he received from his then deceased friend, to his mother to read & her response to it, my heart went out to him at his attempt to open up, yet Nella still didn't grasp it.
Has to be Nella.
I would have loved to, but time didn't permit.
I have gone onto to purchase the other two audio books, Nella Lasts Peace & Nella Last in the 1950's.
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