Book Review for “Yours Cheerfully” by AJ Pearce.
Summary: “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.”
Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Women, Fiction; Settings: Historical – WWII, UK – London; Other Categories: Novel, Journalism, Feminism.
Okay, I know, I should have read “Dear Mrs. Bird” before I read this, but I wasn’t approved to get the ARC when it was available. Since I loved the sound of that book, I ordered a copy, but it has apparently gotten lost in the mail. Even so, I have to say that I don’t believe I was at much of a disadvantage by this, since although this is the second book in the series, I can honestly say that it can easily be read as a stand-alone. That said, I can promise you right now that the first book will go to the top of my TBR pile as soon as it arrives (even if I have to buy a second copy, or report it missing and ask for a replacement). Obviously, after hearing that, you’ve probably already scrolled down to the bottom of this review to see my rating, so… let’s see why I enjoyed this book so much.
First of all, I adored that Emmy was so ambitious and set on becoming a real journalist. I can tell you all about the thrill that anyone who thinks themselves a writer feels when they see their name in print for the first time. Emmy’s emotions as she progresses and moves forward with her career is absolutely spot on, if you ask me. This probably began in the first book, but that didn’t matter to me, because she does a whole lot of the coming-of-age development, which Pearce builds to perfection. Even when Emmy is frustrated or weary to the bone between the magazine and being a volunteer at the fire station, you get the feeling that she’s the epitome of the British “stiff upper lip” attitude, which led to the famous “Keep Calm and Carry On” saying that survives to this day.
I’m guessing that the previous novel focused no small amount on Emmy’s budding relationship with Charles. While this is still prominent in this novel, I also appreciated that it wasn’t Emmy’s sole reason for her existence. Furthermore, Charles is portrayed here as very supportive of Emmy’s ambitions, which might be the slightest bit of wishful thinking on Pearce’s part. Mind you, my in-laws were just slightly younger than Emmy and Charles during WWII, and my father-in-law was very progressive in that aspect. He was a teacher and his wife was studying to be a doctor. He had no problem with her aspirations to become a professional, and work full-time while raising a family. So, it isn’t all that unlikely that there were men like Charles around at the time.
In this book, much of the action surrounds the request of a government ministry to help recruit more women into the work force to help with the war effort. This is done through asking the periodicals targeting women to run articles that would encourage more women to look for appropriate jobs. Obviously, even with the best of intentions, there are some spanners in the works. Emmy’s finding those bumps and trying to assist women both get these types of jobs, as well as improve the conditions for their employment really gets a whole lot of attention. Again, I was pleased that Pearce didn’t allow for everything to be all hunky-dory by the end of the novel, because that would have been totally unrealistic. In addition, even Emmy’s personal life undergoes some hassles, which again, felt just right, and I really liked how Pearce concluded those episodes.
You know, if a book can make me laugh out loud, it has a good chance of getting a high rating from me. The same goes for if a novel makes me tear up, and cry a bit. If I read something that does both – as this one did – and gives me pleasure in reading each and every page, well… it will certainly get top marks from me. This was a thoroughly charming book, with delightful characters in a realistic setting that despite a war going on, never felt dreary or saccharine. For this, I’m recommending it wholeheartedly, and can give this novel nothing less than an unequivocal five stars out of five!
Scribner released “Yours Cheerfully” by AJ Pearce in the UK on June 25, 2021, and in the US on August 10, 2021. This book is/will be available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, The Book Depository (free worldwide delivery), Foyles, Waterstones, WHSmith, Wordery, Walmart (Kobo) US (eBooks and audiobooks), the website eBooks.com, Booksamillion.com, iTunes (iBooks and audiobooks), new or used from Alibris, used from Better World Books (promoting libraries and world literary), as well as from as well as from Bookshop.org and UK.Bookshop (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the publishers for sending me an ARC of this novel via Edelweiss.