World War II London Blitz Diary. By Ruby Side Thompson, edited by Victoria Aldridge Washuk. Charleston, S.C.: Self published, 2011. Photographs. Pp. 209. $14.99 ISBN: 978-146378369-3
Diaries are often some of the most revealing records of times past, since they contain the writer's perceptions of events as they occur rather than how they are remembered. If the diary is passed to the reader without revision by the writer or others, a unique window into the past is opened that is often at odds with histories published later. This diary is such a window.
Ruby Side Thompson kept a total of forty-three diaries throughout her life, not so much as a record of events but rather as an outlet for her creativity and frustrations over what she deemed an unhappy marriage. It is a testament to her ability to reveal her feelings in these diaries that her editor, and great-granddaughter, was surprised and dismayed to read what her ancestor had to say about her home life. The reader is fortunate, though, in that Ruby did not feel the need to speak in euphemisms or talk around subjects in these diaries. We see her happy, sad, angry, frightened, and ultimately determined to persevere through whatever might happen.
This volume covers the start of World War II through the first part of the German Blitz against England. Thompson kept house for her husband and two grown sons (when they were on leave from the RAF) in a small community on the outskirts of London. She describes the routines of life in a small community and details her interactions with her husband and in-laws at length. This provides an interesting view of life in what might be considered a not atypical English household of the time. Thompson, though, is no passionate supporter of the war. She has much more in common with more modern feminists and antiwar activists in her opinions, although they are never expressed beyond the confines of the diary. She sees the war as the work of obstinate and stupid men bent on destruction. She greatly fears this will include the deaths of her two...