A PACIFISTS WAR - FRANCIS PARTRIDGE
A PACIFISTS WAR - FRANCIS PARTRIDGE
Florence records her experiences living with Ralph and their 4-year-old son Burgo and a seemingly continual parade of visitors and lodgers with acute insight and self-awareness. Not all of their friends shared their political or moral views and that creates an interesting tension throughout. Ralph's application for C.O. status hangs around the background of the diary, but seldom takes center stage (as she explains in the foreword, she felt little need to describe her thoughts about Ralph in her diary because he was central to her life).
The course of the war overwhelmed their daily lives in a way that is nearly unimaginable. With the invasion seemed like a foregone conclusion during much of 1940, Florence and her friends were plunged into depths of depression. Otherwise sane people seriously discussed the means and modes of committing suicide in the event the Germans did cross the Channel. They adjust to sleeping - or at least lying in bed - while planes drone overhead and learn the sounds and patterns of bombs being dropped. Even when the threat of invasion fades, the knowledge grows that the only possible outcomes are a German victory or a very long war indeed.
While the larger end is known, being a diary, the eventual outcome for specific individuals is not. In one instance, however, Partridge describes how Burgo was excited over meeting a young RAF pilot. She then reflects that `we are asking this young man to lose his life' at which point she added a powerful two-word footnote: "He did."
I came across this book from the historical endnotes in a work of historical detective fiction Second Violin: An Inspector Troy Thriller by John Lawton and temporarily rescued it from the lower stacks of our public library system. I highly recommended that you do the same.
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