Friday, 28 August 2009

Love lessons (Wyndham) 477

I had a friend around for cake and Virago book perusal the other week (my latest attempt to keep my shelving crisis under control involves lending as many books to people as possible), and while we were looking at my biography books, I spotted Love lessons and knew she'd love it. I remembered how much I had enjoyed reading it (and the subsequent autobiographical works by Wyndham which sadly aren't yet published as VMCs), and felt that I needed to do a catch-up post about this book.

This is Wyndham's diary, written during the Second World War, and gives a fantastic insight into what it was like living under wartime conditions in London, and how she was able to rebel against her upbringing by mixing with bohemian society. Whilst the war was a hugely stressful experience for British society, it did create new freedoms for vast swathes of the population, and through the diaries we witness how this happened for one teenage girl.

Brought up as a strict Catholic, the title refers to the opportunity that the war gave Wyndham to discover adult relationships, encountering an array of incompatible men, before becoming attached to the pretty unsuitable Robert. We see her struggling to cope with contraception and deal with her mother's forbidding influence.

Wyndham is certainly an interesting character - the blurb on the Virago website says:
"Since 1945 Joan Wyndham has led a rich and varied life, including opening Oxford's first espresso bar, running a hippie restaurant in Portobello Road, and cooking at major pop festivals." and I would recommend reading some of her later autobiographies, Love is blue (where Wyndham joins the Wrens) and Anything once. I really hope that these are also brought out by Virago in due course.

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