I won Henrietta’s War from Thomas at My Porch and was really excited to read it. The history behind the book is that the character of Henrietta was created by Joyce Dennys in a series of newspaper columns that evolved throughout World War II. Henrietta is a housewife with grown children living outside of London and is writing to her friend Robert who is fighting in the war. The novel is a collection of these letters.
I wanted to like Henrietta, but I just didn’t. The only word I can think of to describe her is silly. She is a silly housewife who, I felt, didn’t really think for herself and often acted childish. For instance in one letter, Henrietta is looking for an appropriate material to use to put over the windows. She gets obsessed with finding the right color for each room and ends up cutting up her husband’s new pajamas because they are the perfect match. I may be being too hard on Henrietta, but I’m not a fan of those I-would-be-lost-without-my-husband type of characters from the 40’s and 50’s.
I will say that Henrietta’s War is chock full of really interesting insights into the war and living in Britian in that time. Henrietta gives us a first hand account of how civilians were deeply affected and involved in the war. Living in fear of invasion and bombs, making sure to keep black outs each night, Henrietta takes us on a fascinating tour of Britian during WWII.
So Henrietta is not my favorite, but I am glad I read her letters. It made me realize that my own grandparents probably have very interesting accounts of living through WWII here in America and I would love to hear their stories.