WE ALSO SERVED by Vivien Newman #NonFiction #WW1 @worldwarwomen @PublishingPush #wwwblogs

We Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First World WarWe Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First World War by Vivien Newman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First World War is a non-fiction book.

Filled with well researched material, from all walks of life it looks at the way women featured in a war which is mainly remembered for its horrors and its men.

Did you know that the government propaganda effort to get men to sign up focused on women? Not only encouraging the “white feather” brigade but printing posters that implied that mothers, wives and sweet hearts were all fully behind the government call ups. They used them to shame men to sign up before conscription was brought in. Once the men were gone, women were encouraged to support them knitting desperately needed socks and other items too.

But many women also wanted to be useful and volunteered as nurses, yet there was a reluctance to accept anyone not seen as a “qualified” nurse and many women drummed up financial support themselves and headed to the front with ambulances, supplies and determination.

Oversees women nurses were eventually called for when it became obvious the war was going to last much longer than expected, they came particularly from Canada and Australia, many funding their own transport, uniform and travel.

I was fascinated to learn about the hospital trains and barges used to transport the injured men. And the horrific conditions the nurses had to work in. Then there were the home front women, those who worked in factories in dangerous jobs handling explosives and being exposed to chemicals which later caused them ill-health and even death.

This book is a tribute to the women who were proud to take up their own form of “arms” and serve their country, few received medals or recognition for their work and there was no pension or compensation or even job prospects at the end. I think the author did a great job of giving a voice to these war heroines.

A free copy of this book was provided by Publishing Push for review.

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Book Description

We Also Served is a social history of women s involvement in the First World War. Dr Vivien Newman disturbs myths and preconceptions surrounding women’s war work and seeks to inform contemporary readers of countless acts of derring-do, determination, and quiet heroism by British women, that went on behind the scenes from 1914-1918.In August 1914 a mere 640 women had a clearly defined wartime role. Ignoring early War Office advice to ‘go home and sit still’, by 1918 hundreds of thousands of women from all corners of the world had lent their individual wills and collective strength to the Allied cause. As well as becoming nurses, munitions workers, and members of the Land Army, women were also ambulance drivers and surgeons; they served with the Armed Forces; funded and managed their own hospitals within sight and sound of the guns. At least one British woman bore arms, and over a thousand women lost their lives as a direct result of their involvement with the war. This book lets these all but forgotten women speak directly to us of their war, their lives, and their stories.”

About the author

Vivien Newman

Viv has been interested in social history since primary school, when her teachers commented upon her “very many questions”. 

In her doctoral research on women’s poetry of the First World War Viv uncovered a treasure trove of long-forgotten women’s poems. These widen our knowledge of women’s wartime lives, their concerns, and their contributions to the war effort and subsequent Victory. 

Viv has taught women’s war poetry in both academic and non-academic settings and speaks widely at history conferences (both national and international). She gives talks to a variety of audiences ranging from First World War devotees of organisations such as the Western Front Association as well as to Rotarians, Women’s Institutes and U3A. She has lectured in the USA.

As well as writing articles about women during the First Word War, Viv has numerous books either already or soon to be published. 

“We Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First Word War”, published in 2014, explores women’s uniformed and un-uniformed lives between 1914 and 1918, uncovering how women’s contribution to the war effort made victory possible, or , as one contemporary newspaper put it, “Why not VCs for Women?”

In “Nursing Through Shot & Shell: A Great war Nurse’s Diary”, published 2015, Viv takes the reader to the battlefields of Belgium & France to place Beatrice Hopkinson’s war diary completely in context – from her transition from Nottinghampshire chamber maid to trainee fever nurse, to casualty clearing stations and ever closer to the Front Line. Finally, in 1918, Beatrice is part of a rapid response unit sent to wherever the fighting is most fierce, and hence where the wounded threaten to overwhelm the medical services. 

“Tumult and the Tears”, published June 2016, tells the story of the Great War through the eyes and lives of its women poets. Each poem is placed within the context of its author and Viv provides the the background to why it was written, to whom and the story it seeks to tell – from patriotism, to grief, denial to anger, all is explained. Reviews have described it as very moving.

“Singer, Siren, Spy”, due for publication in 2017, takes you deep into the undercover world of women spies and explains why an Italian resident in Switzerland was spying for Germany in Marseilles … and how she met her end in January 1918.

And plans for 2018 include “The Children’s War 1914-1919” which explores British and Allied children’s wartime lives.

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FROM YELLOW STAR TO POP STAR by Dorit Oliver-Wolff @doritoliver @RedDoorBooks @PublishingPush

From Yellow Star to Pop Star: How one young girl survived the Holocaust and became a singing sensationFrom Yellow Star to Pop Star: How one young girl survived the Holocaust and became a singing sensation by Dorit Oliver-Wolff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From Yellow Star to Pop Star is a memoir of a remarkable women who survived the Holocaust, mal-nutrition, cruelty, greed, injustice and went on to have a singing career, bring up a family and be part of a team raising awareness of the holocaust.

Dorit Oliver-Wolff began her life as Theodora Handler born into a Jewish family in Novi Sad, in 1936. In 1941 she was living in Belgrade when the war rained its relentless bombs down on the city. They escaped to the hills and were aided by the partisans. Next they headed for Hungary, but soon found this a dangerous place as the authorities administered ethnic cleansing. Constantly running to keep one step ahead of the Germans and arrest Dorit and her mother were living in the catacombs of Budapest when the Russians drove the Germans out. They were still not safe, they found themselves under Serbian rule at the end of the war and behind the Iron Curtain.

The next stage of their lives saw them emigrating to Israel in 1948. It was here that she changed her name to Dorit, but the story doesn’t end. Constantly moving home, Dorit and her mother were in Turkey when the authorities wanted to deport her as she had no passport. Swift action got her to her German grandparents and later her mother joined her, forming a singing and dance troop. They travelled widely on artist’s visas, so that Dorit could finish her education and earn money in the process. Dorit had many extraordinary experiences with her singing career which took her around much of Europe and Asia. She became a famous singer in great demand, but her story is one of an amazing women, knocked down many times but constantly picking herself up and fighting back.

This is a very inspiring story, the war years were truly horrific and their tale should be told to generations to come, many lives were lost, many never lived to tell their tale, Dorit was one of the lucky ones and her story will stay with me for a long time.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by the author via Red Door Publishing & Publishing Push

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Breaking The Silence by Maria Neito @PublishingPush #Bookreview

Breaking The SilenceBreaking The Silence is a historical drama written around the Spanish Civil war. Mari is a six year old child who lives with her extended family in Madrid. This story begins with the radio news of an army from Africa, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar, bringing an uprising led by a man named Franco. Mari’s Grandfather once went to America in search of freedom and the American dream, but they were found poverty, sickness and suffering. They returned with hope of finding a better Spain and don Juan wrote many articles for newspapers in support of a country with equality for it’s people.
Mari’s family became part of the Republicans as the people fought Franco. Madrid suffered with food shortages and bombing and became a dangerous place to live. Mari’s father, Alfonso, took Mari to cousins in the country to take her away from the atrocities for a while, but even the war eventually came to the village. The child witnessed far too many deaths in this story and it did affect her mentally. She was brought back to Madrid, but Madrid was still under attack and when her Grandparents fled to safety, Mari stayed with her father and step-mother. When the civil war ended, Spain still suffered from the new regime, Mari asked to join the Flechas youth groups, the discipline, food and education appealed to her need for stability. Sadly her young mind was manipulated and led to tragedy for more than one character.
This was a difficult subject matter to read, but it is a part of history often over-shadowed by WW2. I read this book in mobi format and my copy was in need of tweaking for kindle reading. This was a free copy of the book given to me by Publishing Push.
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Baggy Pants and Booties by @MarilynChapma77 @PublishingPush #Histfic

Baggy Pants and Bootees - second editionBaggy Pants and Bootees – second edition by Marilyn Chapman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Baggy Pants and Bootees is a historical fiction set in England with two time settings. We first meet Sophie in 1968, she’s a trainee newspaper reporter in Yorkshire. She’s determined to make a go of a job as a woman in a male dominated career. There is prejudice and unfair working conditions for Sophie but she is strong willed and determined.

A phone call out of the blue from her mother who threw her out when she was just sixteen, concerns Sophie. When she finds out her Mum has been hospitalised Sophie feels obliged to visit. An alcoholic Frances is in a bad way.

The clock turns back to 1940. Frances just fourteen lives in Coventry with her Mum, Dad and younger brother. On one night of bombing Frances runs out into the street to see the action. This saves her life as her house took a direct bomb. Left with no relatives the system puts her in an orphanage in Leicester, but she runs away for her own safety. Working in an factory Frances and her fellow workers meet Americans from the 82nd Airborne Division, known as “The Baggy Pants”. Ed Trask helps Frances and they fall in love, only for Ed to be sent out on his next mission.

A young Frances has to cope in severe conditions and delays in shock cause her mental health to become unstable, she had a very hard life and in the 1960’s Sophie tries to build up a picture of her life and find answers to questions from long ago.

The book title and cover give very little away about this book, it’s quite a little gem. Well paced, scenes move on quickly which keep the reader engaged. I felt very connected to both Sophie and Frances in their separate plights. I liked the fact that several of the character’s endings were left quite open and not all tied neatly off, it made the book more realistic.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by Publishing Push.

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The Downunder Kid by Peter M Clutterbuck @PublishingPush #Kidslit

The Downunder KidThe Downunder Kid by Peter M. Clutterbuck

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Downunder Kid is a children’s story for older primary school children around the age of 11 years. It has two settings, London and Australia.

Sam Bond lives in Littlebury Lane in a London suburb and is in his final year of primary school, he’s a small boy and is threatened by local bullies Wally and Arthur Fletcher. Whilst avoiding the boys Sam asks to do some extra school research in the school library cellar. Here he discovers a book called A Journey Downunder from a boy called Zachary Tyler written around 1798. It tells of the adventures of this 12 year old boy who dug a tunnel from London to Australia.

Terrified of Wally and Arthur, Sam runs home and frantically starts digging in his garden following instructions on how to get to Australia. A couple of days later Sam finds himself upside down on the other side of the world.

Advised to get anti-gravity boots to stop him falling off the world, Sam discovers friendly people in a place of heat and flies. He enrols at the local school and finds inner strength to face the bullies in a lucky turn of events. He uses his adventures and experience to beat the London based bullies when he returns to London via the tunnel.

This is a fun book about school bullies. There is a list of Australian terminology at the end of the book. There are quite a few long grown -up words and expressions which added to the Australian slang may make this book challenging for some readers. One small point, I wasn’t convinced about the anti-gravity boots, children today are well travelled and know about countries all over the world from school lessons, plus television brings them right into our homes and although a fun idea, would they really believe you might fall off the world?

This review is based on a free copy of the book give to me by Publishing Push.

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Back Behind Enemy Lines by Chris Bridge

Back Behind Enemy LinesBack Behind Enemy Lines by Chris Bridge

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Back Behind Enemy Lines is a historical fiction, the first part is set in 1944 in Normandy during WWII, the second part is in 2006, England.

Anna Julen is about to be parachuted into Normandy as a special agent, she’s part of a Special Operations Executive and from now on she is Marie-Claire Cardon, niece of Madam Desaint and milkmaid. Alone in a dangerous time she must hide her radio, blend in with the locals and start finding information to send back home. She works long hours, up early to milk the cows and goats delivering milk and cheese, eyes and ears open to everything. As Marie-Claire she cycles miles observing and mapping German gun placements and movements, always in danger of arrest.

To gather further information Marie- Claire must set up her own network of local spies and helping the resistance, her first recruit is seven year old Franck. Everyone is waiting for the allied invasion, both German and resistance activity is increasing. Marie-Claire’s group help others sabotage railway tracks and communication lines. In May a new agent is sent out, Pierre, young and healthy he must be kept out of sight or he’ll be questioned as to why he is not fighting at the front.

I loved reading about Marie-Claire, she showed such extreme strengths and bravery. In July the invasion came, the frontline moved and the British came to the rescue, Anna’s job was over. I wondered what the rest of the book would be about and if it would keep my attention.

Part two is about Anna, it’s now her ninetieth birthday, her husband Ronnie has died, she has three grown up children. They want to run her life, move her to an old folks home, remove her independence. But Anna resists, she’s back behind enemy lines and her old dormant training re-ignites. She recruits two youngsters to help her and decides it’s time to lay some ghosts to rest, re-turning to Normandy for answers and forgiveness. Part two kept me just as enthralled as part one and I was up late reading into the night to get to the end of this wonderful book.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by Publishing Push in conjunction with Peach Publishing.

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Mrs McKeiver’s Secrets by Margaret Morgan

Mrs McKeiver's Secrets. by Margaret MorganMrs McKeiver’s Secrets. by Margaret Morgan by Margaret Morgan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Mrs McKeiver’s Secrets is a historical novel set in the fictional village of The Hills in England around 1799. It deals with the poverty of the people suffering from Land Enclosure Acts where common ground that they used to feed their animals on, perhaps grow small crops and collect firewood was no longer available to them. Poaching, another source of food for the poor was being heavily punished and the living conditions of most were severe.

Mary McKeiver is the local midwife, healer, part-time Sunday school teacher and secret keeper of many a village woman in trouble. Living with her own crippled son, Mrs McKeiver treats everyone with her herbs, tonics, teas and poultices.

The Reverand Reeves also tries to help the poor, he gives food to the needy, going against his Bishop and many of the Vestry Committee. Yet his congregation is dwindling with the arrival of Quakers at the mill and Methodists in the locality.

The situation is desperate for many, Mrs McKeiver even worries for her own future and turns to the offer of marriage from land owner Andrew Logan as she encourages his generosity towards helping those in need.

I found this book a difficult read, the period of history is not taught much in schools, so is less well known to readers, I had to look up the enclosures acts to find out more about them. The storyline is very slow paced, not a lot actually happens. I felt the pace was clogged with too many references to everyone’s toilet needs. I was desperate to read some highlights of action, perhaps with the canal opening, or the village getting a school opened, or a big scene at the poor house, or even the wedding of Mrs McKeiver. The character narrative is quite unique, particularly Andrew Logan and at times left me baffled.

I’d like to see a new cover for this book which catches the readers eye, the brown sepia style will leave it sitting on many shelves untouched. Then I think the book would benefit from a fresh look to rework areas which don’t add anything to the pace and the storyline. What Mrs McKeiver’s secrets actually are needs to be really emphasised and play a much bigger part to the whole story.

This review is based on a free copy of the book given to me by Publishing Push

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Trading Vincent Crow by D.C.J Wardle

Trading Vincent CrowTrading Vincent Crow by D.C.J. Wardle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Trading Vincent Crow is a book of British dark humour. Don’t let the title put you off. We first meet Vincent Crow employed in a lowly job as kitchen pot-washer in a pub called “The Carrot and Jam Kettle” in the Midlands of England; it’s New Year’s Eve. Vowing not to be stuck in this job forever Vince decides it’s time to aim higher, he’s got a trade-up plan to better himself in life.

Through luck and keeping his eyes open to opportunities, his head on his shoulders and his strict three month trade-up rule Vince finds himself as; a bar-man, a factory worker, a London hotel receptionist, a temporary hotel manager, a London cabbie, a Porsche driving Chauffeur, a Pub manager and ends his year with an offer to run a business in Asia.

I did find the first part of the book a bit slow, it pre-dates the internet boom and the social networking of today, but once Vince got to London, the book picked up and had me chuckling along. The black-market world of the foreign Europeans and their scheming hard-working ways to make money poked fun at the more gullible Westerners. I particularly warmed to Vince’s Nan when he came home and her colourful language, plus there is a delightful episode with a Tiger in Asia.

A quick read and definitely one with a few giggles along the way.

This book was supplied by Publishing Push.

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