Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce
Dear Mrs Bird is a favourite novel that still sticks in my mind three years after reading it. So to discover the sequel, Yours Cheerfully, made me, well, very cheerful!
Set in London in 1941, we pick up the story of Emmeline Lake following the departure of the formidable Henrietta Bird from Woman’s Friend Magazine. Emmy picks up the challenge of their advice column, with the approval of the new editor, Mr Collins, who outside of work is her boyfriend, Charles, older brother. Emmy’s relationship with Charles is going from strength to strength. But her best friend Bunty suffered dreadfully in the recent Blitz, her fiancé dying in a bomb blast that left her badly injured, and Emmy worries about her. But Bunty is slowly recovering. All of them are determined to Make a Go of It.
Emmy is thrilled when Mr Collins asks her to come with him to a meeting with the Ministry of Information, sharing the room with many other journalists. The Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit women to the war effort. Emmy goes out to a factory to write stories to help with recruitment. But when she meets the young women factory workers and finds out the challenges they face, Emmy must decide between Doing her Duty or Standing by her Friends.
Just like the first novel, Yours Cheerfully transports you to 1940s wartime London, and AJ Pearce has written the book so you really feel like you have stepped back in time, especially with the use of language from the era (partly inspired by magazines from the time that the author has collected). It’s a heartwarming read that is at times moving and at times funny.
Yours Cheerfully is a celebration of friendship and people lifting each other up in difficult times. As Emmy says, ‘There are women who stick up for each other, and women who don’t,’ and Emmy proves to be someone who supports those around her even when it all seems too difficult.
Reviewer: Karen McMillan
Macmillan, RRP $34.99