This review is of Make do and Mend (Keeping Family and Home Afloat on War Rations). It is a collection of delightfully reproduced WW2 leaflets, with a foreword by Jill Norman. It’s a beautiful snapshot of the past. It can be easy to romanticise the wartime era, and think that everyone knew how to sew, cook and fix their homes. In reality, the much lauded ‘Blitz Spirit’ was formed and reinforced with a lot of propaganda and hand holding. This included classes, radio shows and detailed leaflets. The leaflets covered home maintenance, fuel conservation, and tips on how to wash, store, and mend clothing.
They could even help you learn how to make do and mend today!
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Money saving expert Martin Lewis begins Thrifty Ways for Modern Days by explaining that this is a crowd sourced book. He gives all credit to his resourceful forumites, on the Old Style Board.
He explains he himself is not an old-styler, as it is a lifestyle, not just an adjustment. He recommends it for people who *need* to do it, due to debt or unemployment, and for people who want to live a greener, thriftier lifestyle. The book is divided into cleaning, shopping, fashion, DIY, special occasions, presents, growing your own and recipes.
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Sweet Bird of Youth is a 1959 play by Tennessee Williams. Most of the play takes place in the Royal Palms Hotel, an “old fashioned but still fashionable” hotel in St. Cloud, on the Gulf Coast.
Chance Wayne is first introduced wearing the classic Williams trope; white silk pyjamas. He starts the day with a cigarette and a ‘bromo’; an alka seltzer hangover remedy. The waiter has to mix it for him, due to his hands shaking, due to his alcohol consumption the night before.
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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep was a 1968 novel by Philip K Dick. The novel’s protagonist is Rick Deckard, a man who hunts sentient androids for profit on a ruined, irradiated earth where the majority of the population have emigrated to Mars. Animals are mostly extinct, and extremely valuable; Rick can only afford an electric sheep, not the real thing. The book explores the nature of the soul, the value of animals, and what constitutes a human being.
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The Suicide of Rachel Foster, by OneOOne Games and Daedalic Entertainment, is another work of interactive fiction. It centres around a woman called Nicole. She has returned to her family’s dilapidated, abandoned hotel to discharge her parents’ estate, and becomes trapped by a snowstorm. She is contacted by Irving on an old, modified cell phone. He claims to be a FEMA agent, on the line to look out for people trapped by the ‘atypical storm’.
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Some Distant Memory, by Galvanic Games and Way Down Deep, is an interactive story about a professor who is desperately searching for the Sunken City of Houston. She is accompanied by ARORA, an AI who can rebuilt memories from notes, letters and photographs. Throughout the game you are also in touch with your companion Commander Ti, from a nearby colony. Earth has been subsumed by the Bloom, an ecological disaster accompanied by terrible earthquakes.
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I’ve always had a soft spot for the Cadfael books by Ellis Peters (Edith Mary Pargeter OBE BEM). The Rose Rent is a classic. It is a medieval mystery novel set in the summer of 1142, as the battle between King Stephen and Empress Maud rages on. This is the thirteenth novel in The Cadfael Chronicles, first published in 1986. It charts a wealthy young widow who donates a house to the Abbey for a symbolic rent of a single white rose a year.
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An Artist of the Floating World, by Kazuo Ishiguro, is a beautiful, hazy portrait of life in post war Japan. It explores generational tension, changing social mores, guilt and atonement. It is also another excellent example of the unreliable narrator, a trope of Ishiguro’s work.
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The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison is a tale of beauty, race and social ostracism. It takes place in Lorain, Ohio and centres on the destruction of a vulnerable little girl who believes herself to be ugly.
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Ragle Gumm is an ordinary man lives with his sister’s family in a sleepy suburban 1950s town. He makes a living by winning a newspaper contest over and over again. He dallies with his neighbour and plots where the Little Green Man will be Next, but starts to realise all is not well. This is how Time out of Joint, by Philip K Dick, begins.
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