I received a copy of this book from The Imperial War Museums in return for an honest review.
This story is an authentic representation of what life in the Women’s Land Army (WLA) was like for many. The land girls worked on the land and maintain the food supply chain for Britain at War. They endured relentless work and ridicule until their vital contribution to the war effort was recognised.
This story prefaced by an introduction from the Imperial War museum which provides salient historical, and social details. Historical details of farming in the war years provides the backdrop for a lovely story of acceptance, friendship, romance, and humour.
Told from Bee’s point of view, the story shows how three young girls coped or didn’t with life in the land army. The author employs sensual imagery allowing the reader to imagine the characters, events and setting.
There are some important social differences in this book, compared to contemporary society. Women were doing men’s work and seen as filling in. After the war, many women didn’t remain in the workforce especially in the farming industry.
The book highlights the importance of working as a community and the hardships faced by the land girls and the country as a whole from rationing. It shows another often overlooked contribution to women in the workforce in the 1940s. It provides a dramatic representation of historical facts through relatable characters and events.
MARGARET HAZEL WATSON (writing under the pseudonym Barbara Whitton) was born in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1921. She was educated at the Church High Girls School in Newcastle, and later sent to St Leonards School in St Andrews. Due to study Art in Paris, her training was curtailed by the outbreak of the Second World War.
Having volunteered for the Women’s Land Army (WLA) in 1939, she worked as a Land Girl for around a year before moving to the First Aid Nursing Yeomanry (FANY) and later joining the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) as a driver, where she remained for the duration of the war. Her novel Green Hands is a fictionalised account of her time spent as a Land Girl, detailing the back-breaking hard work and intensity of her experience with good humour and an enchanting lightness of touch. During her time with the ATS she met her husband Pat Chitty and they were married in 1941. After the war, she wrote a number of accounts of her wartime experience and retained an interest in art, literature and horticulture throughout her life. She died in 2016.