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Bertie, May And Mrs Fish: Country Memories Of Wartime

2.76  ·  Rating details ·  59 ratings  ·  14 reviews
The author's account of her childhood on a Cotswold farm, set against the backdrop of the Second World War and its aftermath. With its eccentric cast of characters, this book captures both the essence of a country childhood and the remarkable courage and resilience displayed by ordinary people during the war. ...more
Unknown Binding, 227 pages
Published March 12th 2010 by Not Avail (first published August 1st 2005)
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Average rating 2.76  · 
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 ·  59 ratings  ·  14 reviews

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Jul 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: biographies-read
There is a good story here trying to get out but utterly ruined by the irritating style of writing.
May 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: autobiography
Maybe this is a nice story if you are into horses or if you were a child during and after WWII and grew up at a large farmhouse with eccentric parents and went on hunting parties. I couldnot relate very much to this story and this was hampered even more by the strange writing style: some full sentences, but often only parts of sentences with lots of dots in between. Just brushstrokes, mere impressions of what happened. You never get the full story, never get to know what really goes on in the pr ...more
Nov 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Don't be put off, as I was, by the slightly fey title. This is a charming autobiography of the childhood years of Xandra Bingley. She was privileged by birth, certainly, but it didn't prevent her early childhood, during the war, from being tough. Her mother, though scarcely raised to such a life, gave herself up to running a large farm since her husband was away at the war. She milked, cared for animals, from cattle to her always beloved horses, did all the practical jobs of which there's never ...more
Hilary Tesh
Apr 30, 2016 rated it liked it
A misleading title - there's very little about Mrs Fish and, since Xandra was only three when the war ended, most of this memoir does not refer to wartime, as the sub-title suggests. It's written entirely in the present tense, one memory leading to another in a fairly haphazard way. I quite liked that and found the memoir all the more interesting because we pass the farm en route to Bristol to visit our daughter. There's a lot about horses and the hunting life - all very unfamiliar - and politic ...more
May 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Made me nostalgic for a life/time that I've never experienced.
Much more fun & interesting than my own child hood (not many ponies in Brixton).
My father was similar to Bertie though - charming but hard to live with.

Barbara Joan
Aug 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Xandra Bingley's early years growing up in an Elizabethan farm house during and after the second world war. It is a delightfully told child's eye view of the family's eccentricities and the ups and downs of farm and village life during that period. It's a disingenuous snapshot of the often dire effects of war upon everyone's lives, whether they are well to do, like Xandra's family or the village people, struggling to get by. ...more
Sep 17, 2019 rated it liked it
Liked it, didnt think it would be my kind of book when i saw it was about horses and stuff, but enjoyed how the author described the relationships and how they coped with wartime
Erica Smythe
Mar 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What characters! Quite a childhood Xandra had. Well written and interesting.
Aug 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read a few times. Definitely around 2006 and a few years later perhaps. Reading again in 2020 to see if it’s as good as I remember.


Unsentimental, with bells on! Do not read if you’re of a nervous disposition since it’s got some upsetting images in here of animals being badly treated or injured.

Surprised about the review tag in the book saying you have to have a heart of stone if you don’t cry at the last chapter -who are they trying to kid? There are so many gaps and omissions that you can s
Feb 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
The author grew up in the Cotswold during the 2nd World War and she made her childhood sound fun and interesting. Her parents were from a background of money, polo, debutante and public school but they weren't afraid to get their hands dirty and work hard.
The story was a bit disjointed at times and confusing but it still was an enjoyable read. I would love to show this book to one of my clients as the father had an army background and travelled to overseas embassies. My client was based at vari
Mar 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Great observations but sometimes a bit rambling & too much in the vein of "stream of consciousness" s which made me mark it 1 star less than top 5. LOVED LOVED LOVED however the interview with the author at the end and her list of top 10 books to read & did enjoy the photos through the book; although it would have been nice to have a picture glossary at the end IF you wanted more information on the photo shown. Good read overall. ...more
Persephone Abbott
Nov 07, 2014 rated it it was ok
Despite the loose connectivity of the writing style, the book had its charms. One was that it was believable, and not prone to overelaboration. Despite my rating, the memoir somewhat fascinated me and I kept the book for future reference, instead of giving it away.
Zarabeth Davies
Nov 12, 2016 rated it it was ok
Almost unintelligible in parts. In which every adult is at most dismissive and at worst abusive - rather than the gentle tale of a childhood in wartime that its promoted as being it's a muddled mess. ...more
Deena Simmons
Oct 18, 2012 rated it it was ok
Didn't enjoy it. The book was too horsey and I got bored with it. ...more
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