Book review: Yours Cheerfully

This moving yet laugh-out-loud wartime sequel to Dear Mrs Bird is the tonic we need this year.

Having devoured Dear Mrs Bird in a single sitting, I was over the moon to be given the opportunity to review the sequel, Yours Cheerfully, and even more delighted that it proved such a worthy successor.

It’s 1941 and Emmeline “Emmy” Lake, a journalist at Woman’s Friend has moved on from the agony aunt pages to tackle wartime advice. With her boyfriend, Charles, fighting on the front line and her best friend, Bunty, injured and having lost her fiancé in the Blitz, Emmy is determined to do her bit.

When the Ministry of Information asks for help from women’s magazines to recruit women workers to the war effort, Emmy sees a chance to make a real difference and further her career in the process. But the truth is more complex than she first imagines and Emmy soon finds herself embroiled in a much larger political issue that touches the lives of her friends and leads her to some difficult decisions.

AJ Pearce delivers in every respect. The writing has that same quality that has you laughing out loud one moment and then all but moved to tears the next. It was wonderful to be back in Emmy’s world and to see the development in her relationships at work and at home. As before, Pearce brings the period to life, with research that is clearly thorough but never heavygoing, and a narrative that is warm and uplifting, but not twee or sugar-coated.

Comparisons to Call the Midwife are apt, because, like the series, the book manages to be an absolute tonic, whilst covering the hard-hitting issues of the day. In this case, the issues are still our issues now – namely the struggle for many women in balancing work and childcare (where there are no workplace provisions for the latter) and the inbuilt discrimination against women at work to which many are wilfully blind.

I loved this book and will definitely be shouting about it to anyone who’ll listen!

Thank you to AJ Pearce, Pan Macmillan, and NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

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