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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Tuesday, 25 September 2018

"A detail on the Burma front" by Winifred Beaumont

In 1943, during the Second World War, London nurse Winifred Beaumont, known as Beau, volunteered to join the Second Front. This book is a memoir of her training, her travel, and her time nursing in British-held Burma (now Myanmar).

It has some great moments, haggling and wheeler-dealing for essential supplies, travelling along jungle roads which have been washed away by heavy rain, dealing with tropical diseases, insects and reptiles, preventing soldiers from taking advantage, and, inevitably, putting on a concert. She writes well. It reminded me of that great sitcom MASH.

Great lines:

  • "Loss of free will meant also a loss of my sense of responsibility. Decisions and tomorrow belonged to authority. Today was mine. My spirits rose. I was light-hearted and light-headed. If I'd known how to whistle, I'd have whistled." (p 10)
  • "I stared at the dark, resentful sea. It rose in lascivious, spittle-flecked hillocks to seek out its prey" (p 15)
  • "The rain sluiced down our head and shoulders but our feet and the roadway remained dry. The ground was so hot it turned the rain to steam as it fell and we moved in a knee-high mist." (p 55)
  • "Disgrace, like smallpox, was an infection avoided by the wise." (p 61)
  • "Tall slender trees flanked the road on either side. They swayed slightly backwards, as if each had a foot poised to stamp across the road and obliterate man and all his works." (p 144)

Well worth a read. September 2016; 160 pages

Books about war in this blog:
Other memoirs reviewed in this blog include (in order of how much I enjoyed them, favourites first):
  • Memoir of the Bobotes: by Joyce Cary: a brilliantly written memoir of the author's time as a medical officer during the Balkan Wars (pre World War I): the writer became a novelist and his craft shows; full of humour and keen observation
  • My Family and Other Animals (and the sequels) by Gerald Durrell: Beautiful descriptions and hilarious accounts of an eccentric family living on the Greek Island of Corfu between WWI and WWII
  • A Pattern of Islands by Arthur Grimble: a well-written, frequently humourous account of Pacific paradise
  • Bus Stop Symi by William Travis: the account of three years spent on the remote and at the time unspoilt Greek island of Symi: well-written, charming and amusing
  • Surprised by Joy by C S Lewis: an account of the famous author's life, mostly from the perspective of his Christianity: beautifully written
  • A Death in the Family by Karl-Ove Knausgard: the first volume of a series in which the author, in the guise of writing novels, portrays real people with real names: the writing is brilliant
  • Beautiful People by Simon Doonan: The story of a young gay man: well-written with moments of marvellous humour
  • Teacher Man by Frank McCourt: the third volume in the series that started with Angela's Ashes
  • The Politics of Washing: Real Life in Venice by Polly Coles: a reasonably well-written account of a year spent living in Venice
  • A Detail on the Burma Front by Winifred Beaumont: a nurse's story from one of the theatres of World War II: more compassion and humour: reasonably well-written
  • Whatever Happened to Margo: Margaret Durrell's account of running a boarding house in Bournemouth: sometimes muddled but often funny
  • Rabbit Stew and a Penny or Two by Maggie Smith-Bendell: an interesting and reasonably well-written account of a Romani Gypsy childhood
  • Not for the faint-hearted by John Stevens: the autobiography of a senior police officer; probably best for those most interested in this sort of story
  • Forty Years Catching Smugglers by Malcolm Nelson: the memoirs of a senior customs officer; probably best for those most interested in this sort of story

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