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Can Any Mother help Me? by Jenna Bailey

(14 Posts)
momb Tue 15-Mar-16 12:52:46

I read this a few years ago and recently rediscovered it on the shelf. It's the (true) story of a women's correspondence magazine from the 1930s onwards. Basically a forerunner of an internet forum. The women each contributed something, it was bound and sent round and they all get to comment in the margins.
At a time when working women were forced back into the home to make way for returning soldiers this was the only opportunity some of these women had for intellectual discourse, to have their own friends etc.
I just loved it, and them. Cried a bit, laughed a bit, and recognised myself and some other forum types in the pages.
Has anyone else read this? Would you like to discuss it with me?

EmilyAlice Tue 15-Mar-16 16:55:52

I read it years ago and loved it. I think one of the contributors was the writer Elaine Morgan (under a different name)?
I have read lots of the Mass Observation collections and the book is in the same vein.
I am in my sixties and old enough to remember some of the things they are writing about.

tobee Wed 16-Mar-16 11:52:01

This is one of my very favourite books, I'm always boring on at my friends about them reading it but I don't sell it well enough and the title's easily forgotten.

I wish, wish, wish there were further volumes of their writings, such an insight.

Clawdy Thu 17-Mar-16 14:19:37

I read this years ago and loved it. The bit that stayed with me was one of the women writing about her husband, who died at home, and sounded such a lovely and gentle man.

SplinteryBottom Thu 17-Mar-16 14:21:52

Thank you for posting this. I saw a segment about the magazine on some crappy daytime TV programme ages ago and thought it was fascinating, but couldn't find anything more about it online. Will go and look up that book now!

ZaZathecat Thu 17-Mar-16 14:22:24

I also loved this book. Bought it when it came out and still have it.

MisguidedAngel Thu 17-Mar-16 14:34:22

A very thoughtful birthday present from my daughter a few years ago. You have made me want to get it out and read it again, I enjoyed it.

tobee Thu 17-Mar-16 16:23:31

I enjoyed all the stories but particularly remember the story of the woman having a breakdown and her obsession with her doctor.

But also the general atmosphere of educated, intelligent women isolated at home with often emotionally distant husbands and young children.

MargaretCabbage Sun 20-Mar-16 17:08:02

I read this last year, mainly because it reminded me of my MN antenatal club, and I was surprised by the similarities. I'm so relieved to be a woman and mother in modern times though. The last letter written by Cotton Goods (I think) really stuck with me; I could imagine her family updating their friends on her health and you hear about older people having a fall and getting confused but it made me realise we don't hear much from older people at all. I cried my eyes out.

Great read.

Groovee Sun 20-Mar-16 17:21:19

I remember reading this. It reminded of my early days on another forum with my birth club.

impostersyndrome Sun 20-Mar-16 21:03:45

In read it when the reprint first came out. Like others on this thread it made me very grateful to have today's freedoms, as well as labour saving devices. Much of it made me think of some of the best Persephone Books novels I've read that capture the same sort of domestic malaise.

Thanks for the reminder OP. I'm going to reorder it from the library.

carlajean Tue 22-Mar-16 15:37:35

I loved it as well. Thanks for the reminder.

MirandaWest Tue 22-Mar-16 15:38:53

I loved it too. I'll dig it out and read it again.

bibliomania Tue 22-Mar-16 15:47:51

Loved this and it reminded me very much of Mumsnet.

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