"Henrietta Sees it Through" by Joyce Dennys

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A series of charming, if a bit dotty, letters form “Henrietta Sees it Through,” by Joyce Dennys. Or, no: the letters are not dotty, it’s the Devonshire villagers who are dotty, the letters simply capture their whims and minor adventures and misadventures. This is the 1986 sequel to 1985’s “Henrietta’s War,” also a collection of letters to Henrietta’s “Childhood’s friend.” I’m having the Devil’s own time finding information on Joyce Dennys, except that hers was a military family, she was born in 1896 in India, and her family moved to Britain in the 1920s.

The language is light and so are the circumstances. In a Devonshire village during World War II, Henrietta comically frets about playing the triangle in the orchestra, but in the end gets is right. The villagers make sure Faith and the Conductor get married – they’d be awfully unhappy kept apart. The serious strain of the War affects the village, although they do reflect some odd psychologies: those whose homes have been damaged by the Germans feel superior to those whose haven’t. Each letter is addressed to Robert, a neighbor, and a British soldier somewhere in the Middle East. They deal exclusively with the domestic goings-on around the village.

I enjoyed the heck out of this collection. It has a distinctly British style to the humor and to the daily approach to the War Effort. We feel the ups and downs alongside these village worthies, and are euphoric come VE-Day. This is a lovely distraction: a close look at a close world full of vivid, wonderful characters dealing in their unique British way with the privations and victories of daily life in wartime. Line drawings interspersed.
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