WE THAT WERE YOUNG by Irene Rathbone


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Reprint of a 1932 novel, long out of print, about Englishwomen's experiences during WW I; poorly written and strangely reminiscent of the social notes in a small-town newspaper. Upper-class Joan Seddon does her bit to help the war effort, serving as a canteen worker in Y.M.C.A. camps in wartorn France and later as a nursing volunteer in military hospitals in London. Along the way, she must decide whether to marry the devoted Colin, for whom she feels only a platonic attachment. Her female friends likewise serve their country--one even works briefly in a munitions factory--and lose fiancÇs and loved ones to the war. The book is unintentionally revealing about the lives these girls led before the war: they are impressed at their own abilities to work full shifts, prepare sandwiches, serve coffee, awake at 7:00, and perspire. They also do a lot of "warbling" at camp concerts. While there are some graphic descriptions of war wounds and factory accidents, it's mostly wartime glamour and terrific fun: freedom to live away from home and meet lots of adoring soldiers--all "poor dears," "darlings" and "pets." Hardly feminist or anti-war (in spite of the publisher's claims), though perhaps of some interest for its record of the attitudes and values of upperclass women in wartime England.

Publisher: Feminist Press
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