Rachel Brand's Reviews > A Pacifist's War: Diaries 1939-1945: Volume 1

A Pacifist's War by Frances Partridge
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it was amazing
bookshelves: en4413, own, wwii, non-fiction, 2012

Read for EN4413: Reading the 1940s, 2011-2012.

I never thought I'd enjoy reading someone's diary so much as I did Frances Partridge's account of her personal experiences of WWII. This was such a compelling read and I found myself sympathising more and more with her as the war developed. She's a sensitive soul, and I imagine I would have experienced similar feelings to her had I lived through WWII. Frances made many profound statements, often without realising it, about the state of masculinity in WWII, how neutralised civilians became to the atrocities being committed throughout the war, and the blood-thirstiness of those who hadn't signed up to fight. There were so many quotes that I had to read out to my fiancé because they struck me as being so meaningful, both in the 1940s and in retrospect. Even if I don't end up writing about this book in my English exam I'm sure this book will stay with me for a long time, and is definitely one I'd recommend to anyone wanting a civilian account of WWII. We often think of civilians as those who worked as land girls or in factories during the war, and lived in great cities like London, and forget how the war affected those living away from the Blitz in the countryside, where they struggled to get out of the house due to petrol rationing and invited friends over for visits whenever they slaughtered a pig from their farm. While readers could turn their nose up at Frances moaning about how she had to do all the cleaning for herself when her hired help left to join the war effort, how many of us truly know what it's like to clean a house the size of hers, especially without modern conveniences? I'd be interested in reading her account of life after the war, and to see whether her and her husband's pacifism affected the way they were treated once peace was brought back to Britain. It was both fascinating and horrifying to see how adamantly against pacifism so many of their friends were, especially those who said that pacifists should effectively be exterminated. Where they not aware of the evils they claimed they were fighting against, and their hypocrisy? Anyone who is similarly anti-pacifism should definitely read this book. Unfortunately none of the three library catalogues I have access to has any more of Frances's diaries but I will definitely be keeping my eye out for them in the hope that I find them similarly moving. 10/10

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Reading Progress

May 12, 2011 – Shelved
May 12, 2011 – Shelved as: en4413
August 22, 2011 – Shelved as: own
October 25, 2011 – Started Reading
October 25, 2011 – Shelved as: wwii
October 25, 2011 – Shelved as: non-fiction
November 4, 2011 –
page 32
January 6, 2012 –
page 48
January 7, 2012 –
page 61
27.23% "Enjoying this a lot more than I expected. An interesting insight into the everyday lives of the upper middle classes in the countryside during WWII. Not the sort of people you often read about in history books!"
January 7, 2012 –
page 75
January 8, 2012 –
page 113
January 9, 2012 –
page 143
January 11, 2012 –
page 166
January 13, 2012 –
page 207
January 13, 2012 – Shelved as: 2012
January 13, 2012 – Finished Reading

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