Thursday, 2 April 2015

My Dear Bessie by Chris Barker and Bessie Moore

My Dear Bessie
By Chris Barker and Bessie Moore (edited by Simon Garfield)
Published by Canongate Books (5 February 2015)
ISBN: 978-1782115670

Publisher's description
Twenty hours have gone since I last wrote. I have been thinking of you. I shall think of you until I post this, and until you get it. Can you feel, as you read these words that I am thinking of you now; aglow, alive, alert at the thought that you are in the same world, and by some strange chance loving me.

In September 1943, Chris Barker was serving as a signalman in North Africa when he decided to brighten the long days of war by writing to old friends. One of these was Bessie Moore, a former work colleague. The unexpected warmth of Bessie's reply changed their lives forever. Crossing continents and years, their funny, affectionate and intensely personal letters are a remarkable portrait of a love played out against the backdrop of the Second World War. Above all, their story is a stirring example of the power of letters to transform ordinary lives.

My verdict
Thanks to social media and instant messaging, the art of letter writing appears to have been lost over the decades. As a teenager, I would send letters to friends who lived up the road, just for the sheer pleasure of receiving post. Now my teen and pre-teen simply text, message or Skype when they want to contact their friends - no more waiting in anticipation for a reply or writing long descriptive paragraphs of events or emotions.

My Dear Bessie is a love story, an insight into wartime romance. The raw emotion in the letters between Chris and Bessie is divine. The devotion and concern for one another. The feelings they couldn't bear to bottle up or hide away. People struggled to cope with their loved ones being away for long periods of time, missing them both physically and emotionally, yet - as this book shows - love could survive and even blossom through the war. 

The descriptions of the wartime events, both in London and abroad, are truly fascinating to read. Within their letters, Chris and Bessie discuss moral and political issues, providing historical background. I found it fascinating to read how the British service men passed their time whilst abroad - how they still enjoyed local culture, for example, and sent photos and packages home.

The letters are fairly one sided, as unfortunately Chris had to destroy many of Bessie's letters due to lack of storage space. However, he does refer to her letters within his own, which helps to keep the flow going.

If you love old-fashioned love stories and wartime romance, My Dear Bessie is a wonderful read.

I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

No comments:

Post a Comment