Genre: Historical Fiction
Publication Date: August 10th, 2021
Pages: 288, hardcover
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.
Yours Cheerfully is the sequel (and hopefully not last in the series) to A. J. Pearce’s novel, Dear Mrs. Bird. Both books are set during WWII in a London-based women’s magazine publisher, and feature Emmy (Emmeline Lake) as she learns her craft and becomes a contributing editor to the magazine.
The magazine is tasked by the Ministry of Information to help recruit women to war effort work. Emmy and her best friend Bunty befriend a young mother who works in a factory, and Emmy writes a series of articles on the women and their work. She learns of the heartbreak the women face when their husbands and brothers are killed in action, and how they struggle to provide for themselves and their families on the much lower wages they earn. Childcare is rarely provided, so some of the women are forced to bring their children to work, causing the women to be fired by their uncaring male bosses.
Did I know about the issues before? Sure, but Pearce does a wonderful job in showing the connections between the various characters and how the women learned that they’re stronger together. It could easily have been maudlin, or the women too “stiff upper lip.” These are more of the “make do and mend” mindset. They love their families and their country, and want to “do their bit.” Taking the journey with Emmy to learn about a world far removed from her own was wonderful.
While Emmy is seeing another side of the war, she is also preparing to marry her fiance, before he is sent off to fight. She struggles to accept that he will no longer be in London, and will be, in her turn, doing her bit like the factory workers.