Learning A Lot in Women At War

Women at War 1939-1945: The Home Front by Carol Harris


3.5/5 STARS


Genre: Historical Non-Fiction, War (Home Front)
Author: Carol Harris
Published: October 2010 {1st pub. 2000}
Publisher: The History Press
Pages: 128 {paperback}

Original review on Goodreads

So I’ve got something a little different for you today. This year I’m trying to branch out and read more historical non-fiction like this for leisure. If you don’t know, I’m a History student at university so I read a lot of snippets from these sorts of works all the time, but I’ve been wanting to sit down and read whole books by historians because, for me, I find them very interesting. But don’t worry! 98% of my reviews and reading habits with stick to the normal YA, Fantasy, Historical Fiction shenanigans that I get up to. But I do want to dip into these books every now and then.

Women at War

This was a really informative book that I found to be an easy and approachable read. I’m trying to get more into reading historical non-fiction such as this because it’s crazy how much you can learn from them. I learnt so many things reading this book which really surprised me; this is a topic that I thought I had down pact, but I was wrong. There was such an unbelievable amount of work and chores that women upheld throughout the Second World War and it makes me feel guilty thinking of how wasteful I am now.

“A lot of people who worked during the war in awful conditions weren’t looked after when it was over.”

If you don’t know much about the British Home Front, or just WWII in general, then I think this is an excellent starting point. It’s not intimidating and it’s not going to bog you down in facts. If you’re anything like me you’ll have pen and paper at the ready to scribble down all the figures and facts to learn and store away (because then you can reuse them at dinner conversations and sound wildly intelligent, am I right? *waggles eyebrows*).

Why 3.5 Stars?

I would rate this higher but I did have a couple of hiccoughs when it came to it. Firstly, in a couple of the chapters (namely the ones on Civilian Works and War Weapons) there were just too many primary sources (something from the time, a photograph quote, for example) – all quotes and retellings of women’s experiences. Whilst this was fabulous, especially for finding out more about what they got up to in some of the factories (the horrors!) I would have liked to have seen more of Harris’ own thoughts on those matters and be more selective on how many sources she included. That being said, in the foreword she does mention that she received an overwhelming response from the community in providing these sources so I think I too would have struggled to choose and wanted to put them all in!

On the Other Hand . . .

To quickly look at a couple of things that I really enjoyed about this, was the visual primary sources. These included images of rationing booklets, propaganda pamphlets, and photographs of some of the women mentioned, themselves. It was a great way to break up the text which made more easier reading. I also thought the general aim and argument of the book was done well and I’m thoroughly convinced that women are the unsung heroes of the war at the home front – they truly deserved a medal.

As a fun fact, did you know that, in general, books remained the same price throughout WWII despite the restriction on paper and otherwise inflated prices on things such as cinema and theatre?


This is well worth the read if you want a quick(ish) read to learn more about the British Home Front from the perspective of women. It’s really encouraging to read a book like this that makes me want to pick up more books to uncover more things in our past and learn about them in depth. Women’s story during WWII is definitely not one to be missed.

“Personally, I think we helped to win the Peace, through sheer persistence.”


Have you learnt anything interesting whilst reading lately?

Let me know in the comments below!

End Note

~~ Kirstie ~~

View all my reviews

6 thoughts on “Learning A Lot in Women At War

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