Sunday, 4 March 2018

A Vicarage in the Blitz

Finished February 22
A Vicarage in the Blitz: The Wartime Letters of Molly Rich 1940-1944 will illustrations by Anthea Craigmyle

This collection of letters was written to Otto a refugee from Austria, who came to live at the vicarage in Chiswick with Molly and her family in early 1939. A little more than a year after arriving, Otto, like many young men from Germany and Austria was interned as an enemy alien. At first Otto was interned in England, but then in Australia, and finally back in England again. Eventually, he was released an joined first the Pioneer Corps, and then the Army and fought in the war.
To Molly, he was like another son, and she corresponded with him in that manner. She tried to keep him focused on the future in a positive way, and used what means she could to find out where he was and advocate for him.
Otto saved the letters and it was only in 1974, after Molly's death that he mentioned them to Anthea, Molly's youngest child. The letters numbered over 600, most of them typed. Only some of them are included in this book. Molly was aware of the censorship of letters during the war and tried to avoid including anything that might cause an issue in that regard, telling Otto of goings on in the household, with friends and neighbours, and general news. As a vicar's wife, Molly was very involved in her community, and housed a number of other war refugees, both domestic and foreign, during the war. She worked for a variety of charitable causes, kept a victory garden, did fire-watching, and worried about her children who were either away at boarding school, or evacuated to the country where Molly's mother lived.
The letters are chatty, with lots of everyday information, war worries, and concern for Otto's wellbeing.
The book includes photographs, a map of Chiswick, and a list of the various people mentioned in the letters, with a little about them, along with wonderful drawings by Anthea related to the letters' content. At the back of the book are two appendices, the first listing incidents in Chiswick caused by enemy actions. The second is a timeline of the war, with events that affected Molly and her family.
Anthea enlisted a friend with editing experience to go through the letters and help decide what to include in this book. Other than correcting spelling, the letters are unaltered.

1 comment:

  1. I like the sound of this one...but then I love reading books written in letters. :)