Home Fires Burning
I loved Georgina Lee’s Great War diaries, HOME FIRES BURNING, written for her baby son, Harry, and got completely absorbed in her world. She married her solicitor husband when she was 41 and had her adored only child when she was 43 or 44. I identified with her as an older mother, though my life is very different from her’s with its background of servants, nannies, and so on. At one point near the end, nanny is away and Georgina proudly records that she has nursed her little boy through a cold all by herself. She was often parted from him – he spent some of the war with her family in Wales to avoid the zepplins – we tend to forget that London was attacked from the air and civilains died too during this war. She is clearly torn between her longing to be with him and what she saw as her duty to stay with her husband, whose health was not good. She is admirably level-headed, reasoning that statistically the risk of being killed or injured is low. She is well informed about the progress of war and has two brothers-in-law in the army. Her rather unconventional upbringing with her widowed artist father in France had made her an independent thinker – her judgments are shrew and she predicts that Churchill, whose political fortunes, took a nose-dive, would return to do great things. She does her bit for the war effort by working for the Belgian Red Cross in London. Hers wasn’t a very unusual or especially exciting life, but she was a remarkable woman all the same. She lived into her 90s, not dying until 1965. I wish I’d known her. I bet she was a lot of fun.