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London War Notes, 1939-1945
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London War Notes, 1939-1945

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  103 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
"This is a firsthand account of the British civilian experience of World War II, written as it was happening. The entries are spaced about every 2 weeks, from September 3, 1939 until May 12, 1945".
Hardcover, 378 pages
Published January 1st 1971 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: persephone
I struggled with this at first, and took some 6 weeks to read it, which must be a record for me with a Persephone book. Although partly caused by books for challenges taking preference, it was a lot to do with the impersonal tone of the book, which is a collection of fortnightly articles written for the New York Times by Englishwoman Mollie Panter-Downes. Her short stories such as Good Evening, Mrs Craven are wonderful, but these articles are so obviously propagandist in the first couple of year ...more
Austen to Zafón
In 1939, at the beginning of WWII, Mollie Panter-Downes, a young and successful novelist at the time, began a weekly column in the New Yorker magazine, called "Letter from London." Her column was so popular that the New Yorker kept her on until 1984 (45 years!). This book is the complete columns from September 1939 to the end of the war in May 1945. Densely packed with details about daily life in London, it gives a different view of the war than most Americans grew up with. For us, the war start ...more
Sasha Drennan
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent first-hand description of London life throughout WWII. Well-written, insightful and humorous, this account covers the political questions and media coverage as well as being an account of the progress of the war. It needs to be read in the context of a view of life from a monied, educated point of view, and that it was intended for consumption by the American media.
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, world-war-2
Amazing read ... history in the making in London during WWII. I love reading history as witnessed by a person as it happens without anyone going back afterwards and interpreting it for me. Highly recomended to any history-buff.
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, ww2
Fascinating first hand account of London during "The War". Excellent for research but also quite readable for anyone with an interest in the period. Really want my own copy now.
Harry McDonald
An interesting, if restrictive reportage of the London middle classes during the Second World War.
Helen Smith
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
more of a dip-in than straight-through book, I felt
Jan 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a dense read, but that makes sense since these were pieces written and published over the course of the war. It was totally worth the effort though because homefront life during WWII us definitely one of my interests. The entries are really interesting and good. The humor and struggle of day to day life amid bombs, rationing, and the many other trials of wartime life makes for a interesting read. I don't think anyone who lacks some sort of background knowledge of the war would pick up t ...more
Jul 02, 2010 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this book because it was interesting to get a different perspective on the events of WWII. She really focused on the daily grind of London, and it was a big contrast to what was going on in the US at the time. It's also the first WWII book that I've read that barely mentions the Eastern front, and makes almost no mention of Japan.

The only thing that bothered me was that you knew nothing about the author. She didn't tell you her job, age, how she got assigned to send these dispatches to
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Credited with helping turning the tide in the US, these 'letters' to the New Yorker from MPD gave the ordinary Brit's view of the War. Not just life on the Home Front but its response to 'the news' - good, bad and indifferent, politics, rationing, the movement of children, women and works of art, the blackout, bombing, the country at war as it happened so to speak. It gave the Americans a bird's eye view of life on this little island as it fought the foe and fought alongside the friend and fed a ...more
Jan 15, 2009 added it
Woman from London that wrote articles about about daily life during WWII for the New Yorker magazine. You can visualize exactly what she is writing about -- air raid drills, rationing, people's everyday lives, what they thought about being in a war, what they thought about the USA, France, Italy, etc. It's quite a good read. Plus she manages to let one know the views both good and bad about the other countries/people.
Feb 17, 2016 rated it liked it
I love Panter-Downes fiction and while I enjoyed these essays I do prefer her fiction voice. These London dispatches are just a little too fanciful in style to have gripped me and made me feel like I lived in War Time London.
I still enjoyed the book, it is a real dip in and out volume but for a real feel on how London was during the war I recommend the reprints of Mass Observation diaries.
Jul 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hist-bio
Having read Nella Last's diaries of life in Barrow-in-Furness, I was au fait with the shortages and almost knew enough history to get the references, but I hadn't been aware of the frustration of the populace with how long (in _years_) it took to get the invasion of Normandy going.
Laurie Glassel
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so full of history and information. It's so interesting to read about WWII from someone who was actually there. It's a long read but I highly recommend it for anyone who likes to read about English history.
Bobbie Painter
Feb 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
I very much enjoyed this. They were short pieces published during the war that showed how the social fabric (class system) was totally changing.
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Interesting subject but rather boring presentation. DNF.
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really interesting to read these pieces, even if it often took a while due to having to look up the background to events/people/dates on Wikipedia.
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'd give it 20 stars if I could.
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Mary Patricia "Mollie" Panter-Downes was a novelist and newspaper columnist for The New Yorker. Aged sixteen, she wrote The Shoreless Sea which became a bestseller; eight editions were published in 1923 and 1924, and the book was serialised in The Daily Mirror. Her second novel The Chase was published in 1925.

After her marriage to Aubrey Robinson in 1927, the couple moved to Surrey, and in 1938 Pa
More about Mollie Panter-Downes