Book Review. The View from the Corner Shop: The Diary of a Yorkshire Shop Assistant in Wartime by Kathleen Hey.

The View from the Corner Shop is a diary for the Mass Observation Project, written by a Yorkshire shop assistant called Kathleen Hey, during the Second World War. There were gaps in the diary, which irked my sense of liking things to be in a certain order and the publisher puts in notes to give wider historical context. This does interrupt the flow. There was much focus on rationing and food. In all my history lessons as a child, I could never get my head around rationing. It sounds as if it would have been a nightmare. Especially in Kathleen’s situation, where they do not always receive supplies to the shop on time or at all and customers are expecting the produce that they need. In her diary Kathleen discusses cost of living, little/no increase in wages, and a self-appointed book buying ban … how similar some of the problems then were to those now. Looking at other reviews for The View from the Corner Shop, some say that this diary was boring. I hesitate to agree with that, but I did struggle at first with the book. It is a diary of an ordinary person, who perhaps was not expecting her book to be published so many years after events. I liked that this book is based in Yorkshire. Sometimes when reading about the war, it feels as if the focus is solely on London and the Blitz, so you forget that there are other parts of the country and were they affected differently by the war, and what experiences did they have? I liked as well that Kathleen feels like a completely different person to those we normally read about. She was not a mother, and she was not married. She was not a nurse. She lived with her sister, and brother-in-law, and helped them to run a corner shop.

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