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My Gentle War

by Joy Lennick

ISBN-10: 1507823355
ISBN-13: 978-1507823354

You can purchace My Gentle War at the following book sellers:
Barnes & Nobel

All wars are evil, but when you’re seven-years-old, the concept goes over your head. It is just a three-lettered word. So, when Joyce Margaret Mansfield was told World War II had started, it didn’t, at first, mean a lot. Faced with the reality of being separated from her parents and living on a mountain side in Wales; leaving the mod.cons. of an indoor toilet and bath, and electricity…and having to wipe your bottom on the local newspaper, she sat up and took note!  Fortunately, she was an imaginative, dreamy child, so saw taking a candle to bed, as long as she could read her Hans Christian Andersen or Brothers Grimm books -  terrifying though some of the stories were - somehow exciting and was happy. Until the moment of parting, that is…

Charles Edward Ernest: her father, had been an early volunteer in the Royal Air Force, and suddenly disappeared to go who knew where?

I’m off to fight Hitler!’ he told his three, bemused, children: Joyce, and her two brothers – Terry, five and Bryan three. (Their experience of fighting having involved a grey, cardboard fort and red lead soldiers who could be shot and repeatedly resurrected.)

When their mother, Lila, the pivot of their existence, also vanished ‘To do war-work,’ they were, understandably concerned, but with her being Welsh, and their foster mother, Aunt Sarah (Sal) her first cousin, they found her care and love (and cooking!) very comforting.

Written in the first person, this delightful memoir, is evocative of so many other evacuees’stories, but also tells of the magical discoveries of childhood, and the many interesting characters and family members who peopled Joyce’s life then. That the local Chapel was adjacent to Aunt Sal’s house, was of some concern, ensuring the children had to attend, otherwise ‘God could peep in the windows of No. 5 and seek us out for punishment!’  On attending, she met a chatty girl who mentioned a mysterious woman.

Lizzie the Bogie’ tol’ our Mam that she’ll ‘ave another baby soon…’

‘How does she know?’ I asked, puzzled,…my knowledge of the reproduction process of the stork and gooseberry bush variety.

Well, she sorta knows everythin’ – Like God – she lives up the Bogie Road.’ (It took me a while to mentally translate this statement into common sense, at first toying with the idea that God did indeed live up the Bogie Road in Lizzie’s house, an intriguing possibility…)’ It turned out that Lizzie told fortunes, surprisingly accurate at times, it was said.  She also said funny things: (to her son Dai off to have a dip in a pond) –

You be careful, my lad. Come back year drowned and I’ll bloody well kill you!’

The ‘fame’ of another neighbour, Mrs. Steadman, preceded her. She wore a knitted hat in fair weather or foul, and when fine, would sit on her front step and gossip with anyone who had the  inclination and time.

Come to the ‘alf-a-crown’ side,’ she’d say, pointing to her good ear, and if it rained or snowed, she’d offer – ‘Inside for Welsh cakes and tea?’ Despite her ‘little old lady lost’ image, she could tell a gutsy joke or three…but reserved them for the grown-ups.

Introduced to the world of dance (Ginger Rogers appearing in her mind’s eye) Joyce delighted being taught tap and ballet by a Miss Patricia Lewis, who promptly took her, as did her Bohemian mother…’Under their wings.’

Like all wars, it took its toll, but luck was on Charlie Mansfield’s side, unlike his younger brother Bernard, who sadly lost his life at twenty-two. The atmosphere of the fraught times is well portrayed by Joy’s father in his war diaries, faithfully recorded when stationed in France just before the mayhem of Dunkirk, and spliced into Joy’s fascinating story.

There’s a strong feeling of ‘place’ and the times in MY GENTLE WAR, at a unique time in history.


Joy LennickPrize-winning author Joy Lennick (First Spanish/English International Short Story Competition held in Torrevieja in 2005) and subsequently one of the competition judges, has a history of writing everything from articles, travelogues, poetry, short stories and five books. Hooked on writing since a young age, the book under the present spotlight is her Memoir MY GENTLE WAR. It’s a delightful insight into being a World War II evacuee in Wales, and the mores of the times. The social history of those uncertain years comes alive in the telling, as does the inclusion of her father’s war-time diaries.

Joy has worn many hats over the years: as a wife and mother of three sons, a secretary, shopkeeper and hotelier. She is now retired to Spain with her husband Eric, who recently hand-wrote his own memoir A LIFE WORTH LIVING, which she edited and typed. It was published by Quirky Girl Publishing.

Today, she is Group Leader of Creative Writing for the U3A (University of the Third Age) in Torrevieja, Spain and a keen member of the WordPlay Forum.

Short stories in many anthologies; the latest being FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD and DES RES? Both published by Quirky Girl Publishing. And Joy also has many poems published in various anthologies.

Latest novel THE CATALYST.

Her books are available from CreateSpace, Amazon and Kindle.


Website: Joy Lennick: Writing & Reading