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Can Any Mother Help Me?
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Can Any Mother Help Me?

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  275 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
In 1935, a young woman wrote a letter to "Nursery World" magazine, expressing her feelings of isolation and loneliness. Women from all over the country experiencing similar frustrations wrote back. To create an outlet for their abundant ideas and opinions they started a private magazine, "The Cooperative Correspondence Club". The deep friendships formed through its pages e ...more
Paperback, 354 pages
Published 2007 by Faber and Faber
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Oct 30, 2012 Cecily rated it really liked it
Don't be put off by the title!

This is riveting, poignant, uplifting, occasionally shocking, but never sentimental.

Not my usual sort of book, or one that fits the chick-lit cover and cheesy title, but it is a quirky, charming, moving, unsentimental and revealing peek into women's lives over half a century. It's very easy to dip in and out of and is likely to make most modern readers very grateful for what they have, without every being misery lit, or anything of that ilk.

It is a compilation of a
Dec 26, 2014 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: auto-and-biog
This was an unusual and excellent book about the lives of some interesting women. Not famous women, but women with a story. Cecily has reviewed it superbly well, and I have nothing to add to her insights. Her review is here...
Apr 17, 2008 Judy rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating, moving book about a group of mothers who set up a correspondence club in the 1930s, writing a private magazine each month, circulated among members, about every aspect of their lives. Amazingly, the group carried on until 1990. A lot of the original articles are included and are wonderful. I couldn't put it down! This strikes me as in many ways showing the way forward to the groups which have grown up in recent years thanks to the internet.

I should say that the pink cover
Mar 18, 2012 Cara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012, kindle
You know a book has really touched you when you start telling people you have only just met about it. I found myself doing just this with Can Any Mother Help Me?

It is a fascinating collection of articles pulled together expertly by Jenna Bailey. In the 1930's a struggling Mum wrote to Nursery World Magazine to ask for help to alleviate her worries and boredom with being a stay at home mother, who couldn't afford a wireless and had no library near by. What evolved from this letter was the birth o
Feb 27, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have a feeling you would like this book, Gina.

We read it as part of my book reading group. It's a really interesting piece of social history. It's about a group of women who formed a secret correspondence club in the 1930s, and continued it throughout most of the twentieth century. The letters and documents from the correspondence club are housed at Sussex University. Jenna Bailey (as part of her academic research - can't remember if it was for a Master's or a PhD) studied the letters and put
Jul 09, 2011 Jo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
I found this book quite by accident, while browsing the amazon links from Nella Last's War, and I'm so glad I did. I loved it. (Although I'm inclined to wonder whether there were lots more mundane articles in the magazine that didn't make the cut of the book, since surely if they were written by ordinary people, a lot of the time their lives must have been as boring as my own.)

The women in the book were fascinating, and the articles they wrote were very revealing about everyday life. They didn't
Jul 14, 2012 Rachel rated it really liked it
If they'd have Facebook and internet message boards in 1935, this is what they'd have been writing about. Wonderful social history - such an interesting and moving book.
Apr 05, 2013 Busyknitter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 52in13
Social networking isn’t really that new and it doesn’t require digital technology.

In 1935, a group of disparate women from across the UK set up the Co-operative Correspondence Club. For nearly 60 years, the members submitted articles to an editor, who stitched them together into the sole copy of the club’s fortnightly magazine. The magazine was circulated around the membership, who added marginal comments as it went around.

The title of this book refers to the original letter in Nursery World mag
Mark Muldoon
Aug 05, 2011 Mark Muldoon rated it really liked it
Can any mother help me? is the first line in a letter that appeared in the British mom's magazine The Nursery World in 1935 and was a plea from an educated woman stranded at home with young children in rural Ireland. Her letter drew many sympathetic replies and lead to the Cooperative Corespondence Club which, for almost 50 years, produced a bimonthly private magazine written for and by its readers. The single copy, assembled by the editor (pen name Ad Astra), passed by post from reader to reade ...more
Feb 09, 2008 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like social history and women's history
The story of a correspondence club originally formed by a disparate group of mothers in the 1930s. The club continued until the 1980s, when the members became too few and/or too ill to continue.

Jenna Bailey came on the story of this group of women, initially strangers, who became friends through their writing when looking for a Masters research topic. What she found was the story of connections formed through shared joys and sorrows, and evidence of the strength that can be found in women's frie
Jul 30, 2011 Rachel added it
Loved it. I really felt I knew some of the writers by the end of the book, or what they chose to reveal of themselves anyway. Some parts provoked strong emotions; particularly the sections about illness and ageing. What a committment the women had to the magazine and to each other; some writing for over half a century!

I asked for this book for Christmas as I'd seen the stage version (same title as the book in case you want to see it too) and wanted to gain a fuller picture.

I have just looked in
Een facebook groepje voor intelligente moeders, maar dan voor dat internet bestond, daarmee kun je deze groep vrouwen vergelijken. Opmerkelijk hoe ze zo'n vijftig jaar met elkaar communiceerden, aan de hand van een tijdschrift dat ze zelf aanvulden en aan elkaar doorzonden. Het boek bevat een selectie van hun brieven aan elkaar, die een mooi beeld geven van hoe het was om een huismoeder met een diploma te zijn, zo'n 50 jaar geleden.
Vicky Cepel
Interesting from a historical point of view but as a 'read' it just doesn't flow. Some of the readers experiences and observations are truly heartbreaking but the system they used didn't allow for sufficient comment by the other members to make it really engaging. It comes across as a little cold and detached. Maybe that was just the times they lived in.
Jan 25, 2016 Linda added it
What an interesting book and a unique way the women in the book reached out to one another through good and bad. I was quite sad at the end as they came to the end of their lives, but, this is not something that we often read, the women's lives in diary form and wanting to know what happened. It's very 'real'.
Mar 04, 2008 Elaine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anybody interested in social history
Recommended to Elaine by: TimeOut review
Thoroughly enjoyed this collection of letters between a group of mothers dating from mid 1930's onwards. An eye-opening picture of life through every stage of life. Fantastic to read about the solidarity and support enjoyed by this group of very eclectic women. How things and attitudes have changed! I was moved and inspired by the strength of mind and spirit of these ladies!
Jan 03, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I dipped into this book rather than read it straight through. Fascinating slice of social history that tells the story of several women who correspondended with each other via a magazine from the 1930s to the 1980s. So interesting to see how they coped with motherhood and it's demands, their attitudes to marriage, family and work.
Jan 02, 2013 Lyndsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book. I'm surprised this is the first review. I imagine a lot of people will relate to this brilliant true story about how women communicated before the times of the Internet forum.

It's captivating how these woman organised and kept alive their little group. I couldn't put the book/kindle down.

I wish I had been part of it.
Feb 15, 2014 Hilary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Social networking starting in the 1930's. What an enjoyable and humbling read - women at their most resourceful and supportive. Credit to Jenna Bailey for her work in pulling all the 'evidence' together and producing this fascinating piece of women's social history. Sisterhood rocks!
Apr 29, 2009 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An engrossing book, based on personal narratives from young mothers in the early half of the 20th century. I love that these women found a way to create a private dialogue over great distances, about the supremely mundane and the profoundly political. Quite inspiring.
Feb 28, 2014 Kelli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book. Found it in a sale bin in the UK. It will appeal to anyone who likes sociology / social history - that sort of thing. Stories about a group of women/mothers in the 1930s. fascinating.
This is a window into women's lives in the U.K. in the 1930s and 40s. There is a lot about children, relationships and household chores interspersed with other important areas of their lives and the world around them.
Angela Davies
Oct 14, 2013 Angela Davies rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It gave such glimpses into the lives of women of my mother's generation. Though it must be said that these were mainly middle class ladies who had far more opportunities than working class ladies. A wonderful read.
Jun 20, 2012 Homestic rated it really liked it

You have to be interested in the extraordinary nature of the detail of people's lives. True histories telling a bigger story. If you enjoyed "Our Hidden Lives" this style will work for you.
Claire Webster
It took me a long time to get through this as ultimately I just found it really depressing. Yes, there were some amazing stories and experiences and it does remind the reader of the extraordinary nature of ordinary lives but still: depressing.
June Churchill
Mar 19, 2012 June Churchill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating insight to a group of womens' lives during the 20th century
Jul 14, 2012 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read, not always easy especially the later chapters about old age and death.
Roxanne Ludford
Jul 30, 2015 Roxanne Ludford rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it! Couldn't put it down!
Nov 26, 2012 C. rated it really liked it
I registered a book at!
Apr 05, 2014 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A truly fascinating and interesting book, revealing life over the years of a number of women with some real insights.
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