Book Talk: Love in the Blitz: The Long-Lost Letters of a Brilliant Young Woman to Her Beloved on the
Deftly edited by McGowan and with informative chapter introductions by Crane, the letters offer a moving, sharply etched chronicle of wartime London . . . . Alexander’s wit and intelligence shine through reports of her work, their friends’ romantic entanglements, her reflections on religion, her sexual longing, and tidbits of gossip . . . . A rare, vivid perspective on the impact of war.”
About the Book
On July 17th 1939, Eileen Alexander, a bright young woman recently graduated from Girton College, Cambridge, begins a brilliant correspondence with fellow Cambridge student Gershon Ellenbogen that lasts five years and spans many hundreds of letters.
But as Eileen and Gershon’s relationship flourishes from friendship and admiration into passion and love, the tensions between Germany, Russia, and the rest of Europe reach a crescendo. When war is declared, Gershon heads for Cairo and Eileen forgoes her studies to work in the Air Ministry.
As cinematic as Atonement, written with the intimacy of the Neapolitan quartet, Love in the Blitz is an extraordinary glimpse of life in London during World War II and an illuminating portrait of an ordinary young woman trying to carve a place for herself in a time of uncertainty. As the Luftwaffe begins its bombardment of England, Eileen, like her fellow Britons, carries on while her loved ones are called up to fight, some never to return home.
Written over the course of the conflict, Eileen’s letters provide a vivid and personal glimpse of this historic era. Yet throughout the turmoil and bloodshed, one thing remains constant: her beloved Gershon, who remains a source of strength and support, even after he, too, joins the fighting. Though his letters have been lost to time, the bolstering force of his love for Eileen is illuminated in her responses to him.
Equal parts heartrending and heartwarming, Love in the Blitz is a timeless romance and a deeply personal story of life and resilience amid the violence and terror of war.
Reviews and What Readers Say
“ Love in the Blitz provides an enchanting insight into a young woman’s life in wartime Britain via letters sent by the 'blue-stocking' Eileen Alexander to friends, family, and most importantly, the love of her life."—Jacqueline Winspear, New York Times bestselling author of the Maisie Dobbs novels
“ This remarkable treasure trove of letters gives a unique insight into home-front life and romance."
“ It’s a memoir of hope and resilience, as much as of love.”
“ Alexander’s adoration for Gershon shines through in every letter, and so do her observations on the opinions and foibles of the people around her. You’ll laugh out loud at unbuttoned descriptions of friends, family, and coworkers while learning more than you’d expect about life in London leading up and during to World War II. This treasure trove of love letters, cultural history, and memoir should make a wonderful addition to all World War II collections. ” —Library Journal
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Born in 1917 and raised in the London village of Hampstead, Eileen Alexander was a young Girton College, Cambridge graduate when the Second World War erupted across Europe. During the War, she worked for the Air Ministry as an administrative assistant while also meticulously documenting her life and the war in letters to her college sweetheart, Gershon Ellenbogen. The two would later go on to marry in March of 1944. She is survived by two grandchildren.