Set in WWII London, “Yours Cheerfully” highlights the stoic and resilient spirit of Londoners during that time. The story takes place just a few short months after the events portrayed in “Dear Mrs. Bird“.
The story is told from the perspective of a 24 year old woman named Emmeline Lake, whose fondest wish is to become a journalist. In particular, a Lady War Correspondent. Emmy lives in Pimlico and shares a flat with her best friend in the world, Bunty.
Whereas in “Dear Mrs. Bird” Emmy worked in the office of the magazine “Women’s Friend”, this time out she is sometimes out in the field doing a series of articles called “Women’s Friend at Work”. The magazine is trying to highlight the invaluable contribution women are making working in the munitions factories, driving buses, ambulances and fire trucks, working as engineers and mechanics, and other work formerly done by men.
She is desperately trying to help out the women by trying to procure a Government funded nursery. This after she witnesses two young children playing on the munitions factory floor. The women, who had little support, were given the unenviable choice of leaving their children unattended, or bringing them with them to work – risking their children’s well-being, and risking losing their much needed employment.
Click here to read an article entitled “Women, Babies, and Bombs: how day nurseries contributed to working women’s lives during WWII“.
On a personal note, Emmy has just become engaged to be married to Charles who is an Army Captain. Charles just happens to be the half-brother of Emmy’s boss at the magazine.
“We were all in the same boat, and we just had to do whatever it took to make sure it didn’t go down.”
Due to the fact that Charles is soon to be shipped out, the wedding is moved up to just before Christmas – the very same day as Emmy’s friends have planned a march to make the public aware of the need for nurseries for working mothers.
The novel sees Emmy Lake morph into Mrs. Charles Mayhew with a wedding day that is memorable to say the very least.
If you want an historical novel that sheds light on women in WWII and entertains by making you smile, then look no further. “Yours Cheerfully” is a perfect title for this book. It captures the aim of the protagonist and the magazine she works for. Remain ‘cheerful’ despite long hours, hard work, and rationing, not to mention the personal dangers and devastating losses that many suffered. Morale is key.
The female friendships and camaraderie forged a working environment that sustained those who were a part of it. In fact female friendships were paramount in this novel which is a light read that takes on some rather serious issues.
All in all, “Yours Cheerfully” is an upbeat, heartwarming novel filled to the brim with endearing characters.
This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Simon & Schuster via Edelweiss.
A.J. Pearce was born in Hampshire, England. Her favourite subjects at school were English and History, which now (finally!) seems to be making some sense.
She attended the University of Sussex where she majored in American History, spending her Junior Year at Northwestern University in Illinois, USA.
She began writing as a hobby in 2005. In 2012 she came across a 1939 copy of a weekly women’s magazine and the idea of a writing a novel set in wartime London was born.
In early 2016 AJ finished Dear Mrs Bird and signed with her agent Jo Unwin. A week after submission and following a seven-publisher auction in the UK, Dear Mrs Bird was acquired by Picador, and in the USA by Scribner after a similarly competitive auction. Translation rights have been sold in a further eleven countries and Dear Mrs Bird has now been optioned for development for television.
AJ was chosen as one of The Observer’s New Faces Of Fiction Debut Novelists 2018. “Yours Cheerfully” is her second novel.
Follow A.J. Pearce on Twitter @ajpearcewrites