Debs at War: How Wartime Changed Their Lives, 1939–1945 by Anne de Courcy - review by Diana Athill

Diana Athill

Scared of Nothing but Their Fathers

Debs at War: How Wartime Changed Their Lives, 1939–1945

By

Weidenfeld & Nicolson xxpp £18.99 order from our bookshop
 

It was a good idea of Anne de Courcy's to round up forty-seven well-bred women who were debutantes (in the social sense) when war broke out in 1939, and get them to remember their wartime experiences. She captures within one book a vivid impression of those years, a short history of the women's services, a closely focused view of an exotic corner of social history, and a lot of human interest. It all makes riveting reading.

The grander you were, the grimmer your childhood, or so it seems from the material quoted. Of the ritual after-tea visit to your parents: ‘They didn't play with us. We sat in the gun room, seven of us on the sofa, then shot out of the room like scalded cats.’

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