Sunday, March 5, 2017

BOOK: The End of the Alphabet and Captured Hearts

The End of the Alphabet by CS Richardson, 142 pages

Wispy little book about a couple, facing the last month of the husband's life.  Ambrose Zephyr and Zappora Ashkenazi decide to travel the world from A to Z. We see them go to Amsterdam, Berlin and so on. (Around G I started checking if this would be all twenty-six letters, but his health begins to fail, and N-Z get lumped together.)
Eh, it was okay. I didn't get the beauty in the writing, but some reviews adore it; the characters were odd, rather literary; not depressing considering the topic.
I read this for my book club, and we all found it harmless, but it made little impression on any of us. We all agreed - at least it was short!

Captured Hearts: New Brunswick's War Brides by Melynda Jarratt, 148 pages
New Brunswick Military History Series (see also The Neighbourly War)

This is a nice little series of local history books. Although set in New Brunswick, I imagine the PEI experience was very similar for war brides. During WW2, many of the Canadian soldiers met and married girls from England and Europe. Some of the chapters explain the situations that led to this (the local boys were off fighting, the Canadian boys were in England and, mostly, just there to be dancing and hanging out with. Never underestimate the power of proximity in finding true love)

The book is well researched, and includes many anecdotes about the war brides, lots of pictures and maps. There are chapters about the English brides, and then the continental brides, the expectations and disappointments that met the brides as they arrived to join their husbands; and the fitting in that took place. Much of rural New Brunswick had no running water or electricity and some women found it quite and adjustment and perhaps they were given a different view of where they were headed. Many stuck it out, but there were also brides who turned around and went back home, some for very good reason. The stiff upper lip, you made your bed, attitude prevailed for a lot of women.

I didn't really realize how much the women in Britain did during the war. I knew they worked, drove ambulances and the gardening, but at one point, there were essentially conscripted into work for the homefront. That led to some of the adjustments, as these women were working, independent members of society, and then came to Canada and had, in many cases, 8-12 children and worked the farm. Just realizing how many 'lives' they lived is pretty impressive.