My dear Alice: War letters 1937-1950
By Clare Christie and Carol Wills, Canadian and English cousins born at wars end on opposite sides of the Atlantic.
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An amazing new 276 page book (8 x 9, 80 lb. gloss pages with quality cover) released Nov 1st in time for Remembrance Day and Holiday gift giving, involving letters sent from Britain during wartime in response to Alice Christie's packages sent from Amherst, NS to the UK to keep in touch with family living through the London 'blitz", the Battle of Britain and the threat of German invasion. In those packages she provided news, essentials that were rationed for the war effort, plus a few small luxury items such as chocolate, hair nets, stockings, Chedder cheese, etc. to maintain the collective spirits of her aunts, uncles and cousins during those darkest of days. The letters begun in 1937, endured until 1950, although some items were still rationed until 1954 in Great Britain.
Many readers will recall and relate to the sending of packages to needy families in the UK, Holland and France, as it was a fairly common practice for many families within the Maritimes. The primary difference was that those very literate letters sent in return were kept for 60 years by Alice Christie and her family and this collection constitutes what one archivist has called a National Treasure.
BACK COVER DESCRIPTION:
A compelling WWII story, but 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 the aunts of Alice Christie - Berta and 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 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.
“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 other of the period being more gripping!” Hugh Griffith, former Editor of Debates & Chief of Reporting Services, The Senate of Canada.