Nella Last's Peace : The Post-War Diaries of Housewife 49, Paperback
4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Outwardly Nella's life was probably seen as ordinary; but behind this mask were a lively mind and a persistent pen - a pen that never gave up over almost three decades, reporting, describing, pondering, and disclosing.

Nella, 55 when the war ends, writes of what ordinary people felt during those years of privation, hope and the re-building of Britain, providing a moving and inspiring account of the years that shaped the society we live in today.

Her diary offers a detailed, moving and humorous narrative of the changing experiences of ordinary people at this time, and thoughts on the aftermath of war and whether 'peace' really meant peace, for everyone.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 320 pages, 8pp b & w pics
  • Publisher: Profile Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Autobiography: general
  • ISBN: 9781846680748



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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Everyone knows about the courage of the British people during World War II, but many are ignorant of the fact that wartime sacrifices extended for years after the end of the war. Britain, essentially bankrupt after the end of the war, kept rationing in effect until 1953 while funneling their industrial output towards exports and hard currency.In this Mass Observation diary, one sees the dreary grind of daily life in the years immediately after the end of the war. People's lives were made even more dreary because there was no common sense of purpose or sacrifice as there had been during wartime. Instead there was just plodding ahead one day at a time & hoping for better days to come.Nella Last, the diarist, captures all of this in vivid language and imagry. Once again one is grateful for the institution of Mass Observation and the treasure trove of primary historical documents that resides at the University of Sussex.

Review by

Nella's second diary installment is just as rich as the first. Early on in the book you realize that you are going to meet a "different/changed" woman, and the Nella that is revealed in these edited diary entries is a bit more sad and circumspect. No doubt this was common in the UK given that the end of the war did not mean the end of rationing, and that the sluggish economy combined with millions of returning men meant women were being pushed out of the workforce wholesale. That sort of an environment was tough on Nella -- someone who so strongly valued all the gains in esteem and independence that she had made during the war.But happy or sad, this "ordinary" woman's diary is so much richer than fiction and her story is as captivating as it is the tale of a regular person living a regular life in extraordinary times.

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