Yours Cheerfully by A.J. Pearce
London, November 1941. Following the departure of the formidable Henrietta Bird from Woman’s Friend magazine, things are looking up for Emmeline Lake as she takes on the challenge of becoming a young wartime advice columnist. Her relationship with boyfriend Charles (now stationed back in the UK) is blossoming, while Emmy’s best friend Bunty, still reeling from the very worst of the Blitz, is bravely looking to the future. Together, the friends are determined to Make a Go of It.
When the Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit desperately needed female workers to the war effort, Emmy is thrilled to be asked to step up and help. But when she and Bunty meet a young woman who shows them the very real challenges that women war workers face, Emmy must tackle a life-changing dilemma between doing her duty and standing by her friends.
This is the sequel to Dear Mrs. Bird (which I reviewed here). I will say that I slightly preferred book 1, but this was a pretty decent story. Yours Cheerfully follows Emmy Lake, assistant to an advice columnist during WWII. Only now, Emmy has a few extra responsibilities, and has really come into her own as a journalist and writer.
Set only a few months after Dear Mrs. Bird, Yours Cheerfully takes place in London during WWII. Fighting is still happening overseas, the bombs are raining down on London on a nightly basis, and the women are holding down the fort in both the homes and the workplace. This book really delves into the struggles that women had as they took over the jobs left behind by the soldiers that were now fighting overseas, while at the same time taking care of their homes and families, juggling childcare and demanding hours, all while constantly worrying about their husbands, brothers, and friends who were away at war.
As the magazines and papers were asked to pick up the slack in the advertising campaigns, recruiting and encouraging more women to enter the workplace, Emmy is thrilled to be in position that means she can really help with the war effort and “do her bit”. She visits an ammunitions factory, but soon discovers there is more to working in such a factory than just the hours and machinery themselves. What she finds is a huge lack of assistance for mothers who are balancing both work and childcare.
Where Dear Mrs. Bird focused a lot on living in and dealing with the blitz, Yours Cheerfully spends a lot of time on women at work. Emmy starts out seeing everything through a slightly naïve lens, but as she uncovers more details she becomes more and more determined to help.
Emmy is a pretty fierce character, she is not really one for holding back what she thinks, sometimes to her detriment. She doesn’t always do a lot of thinking before she speaks, although she can at times spend just as much time obsessing over something she is planning to say.
Despite the war, most of the characters are typically upbeat, outspoken, all determined to get on with life no matter what is happening around them. The book has a brilliant jovial spirit about it that just makes you smile. I loved the character Bunty in the first book, and I adored her just as much in this one.
I love the writing style in this book. There are so many old phrases and British idioms, which I definitely enjoy. And I like the amount of well thought out humour that has been put into this book. It is a nice read. I did prefer the first book Dear Mrs. Bird ever so slightly, just because it did have me laughing a lot. Yours Cheerfully still has a few laughs and plenty of phrases that made me chuckle.
Have you read Dear Mrs. Bird or Yours Cheerfully? Let me know your thoughts!
*The ARC copy of Yours Cheerfully was provided to me via netgalley in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this review are mine*