Love in the Blitz

Love in the Blitz : The Greatest Lost Love Letters of the Second World War

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'Eileen is an ambitious, kind and achingly funny observer' The Times

'Passionate, gossipy, vivacious' Marina Warner

'A unique insight into home-front life and romance' Mail on Sunday

With the intimacy and wit of a Second World War Bridget Jones, Eileen Alexander offers a portal into life during the Blitz:

- The sex, joys and cruelties of young love - for Eileen with a man who had just inadvertently involved her in a car crash, for her friends with some less-than-honourable specimens

- The frustrations of coming of age in an era 'suspended between an unborn tomorrow & dead yesterday'

- The tragedies of rationed textiles ('apropos French Knickers & Respectability ... You've no idea what a lot of difference a bit of elastic can make'),

With Eileen, a Jewish woman in her twenties crackling with intelligence, we sink into the reality of wartime London - particularly as it was lived for women. She is hilariously caustic about colleagues and political figures, confessional to the gossipy and emotional extremes, and brilliantly frank on the feeling of derailed hopes and ambition.

Above all, these letters - rescued from oblivion by a chance eBay purchase - tell an unbelievable love story. This is a one-of-a-kind chronicle, seared with the pain of loving a man away at the front and the terrible uncertainty of war.

'I wonder what anyone would think if they suddenly came across my letters to you & started reading them in chronological order?' Eileen wrote in 1941. 'I think they'd say "This girl never lived till she loved" - and it would be true, darling.'
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Product details

  • Hardback | 496 pages
  • 159 x 240 x 43mm | 770g
  • William Collins
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • edition
  • 000831120X
  • 9780008311209
  • 12,654

Review quote

'Eileen emerges as a force of nature, and her voice is one of the real joys in these remarkable letters. She was clever and caustic, without being cruel; intellectually brilliant and revelling in that fact... a memoir of hope and resilience, as much as of love' The Times

'A trove of dazzlingly literary love letters. These are as [Oswyn] Murray rightly concludes, 'some of the most beautiful and vivid' love letters of the Second World War'
Daily Telegraph

'The great value of Eileen's book is that it takes you out of our present troubles into a world even more dangerous and destructive, which people nevertheless survived'

Sunday Times

'This remarkable treasure trove of letters gives a unique insight into home-front life and romance'
Mail on Sunday

'A lovely book that's best read slowly to savour the gradual unfurling of a great love in a distressing, destructive time.'
S magazine, Sunday Express

'Superbly entertaining ... on almost every page there is a gleaming little starburst of life... the letters trace the years of the war from a woman's perspective, a woman of high intelligence and self-possession withal, who never doubts for one moment that her fiance is after an equal intellectual partner. She is immensely clever and her literary judgements are delicious. Her writing is a diary-like outpouring, a stream of consciousness in which she relives her days in the glorifying imagined gaze of her recipient; it is a mass of apercus, jokes, observations and confessions.'

'If you want to discover how to stay close when you're frightened and cut off from a loved one, Eileen Alexander's passionate, gossipy, vivacious outpourings show the way. Her letters tell a story of survival itself - and give voice to the urgency to connect in love in spite of every obstacle.'
Marina Warner
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About Eileen Alexander

Eileen Alexander was born in Cairo and grew up in a cosmopolitan Jewish family before moving to Cambridge as a student. She graduated from Girton College with a first-class degree in English in 1939, and worked during the Second World War for the civil service in the Air Ministry. Eileen went on to be a teacher, writer and translator, including translating some of Georges Simenon's works.
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