Newest Review: ... and met up outside of the magazine. The women also wrote their articles under a 'nom de plume', like many of us here on Dooyoo! This book... more
The Secret Magazine...Not So Secret Anymore
Can Any Mother Help Me? - Jenna Bailey
Member Name: arleek
Can Any Mother Help Me? - Jenna Bailey
I found this book pretty interesting and quite emotional in places. I will give you a brief overview of what the book is about.
Back in the 1930s a young mother wrote to a magazine asking for help because she was lonely and frustrated being stuck at home. This feeling was echoed in the thoughts of many of the women who read her letter, and so a secret magazine called the Cooperative Correspondence Club (CCC) was born.
This was a magazine which was circulated around the country between exclusive members of the CCC and they would write their thoughts and feelings, post their articles to the 'editor' who would then stitch the articles together with a bound cover and mail it to the first person on the list, who would then mail it onto the next and it would eventually work it's way back to the editor who would disassemble it and begin with the next edition. Often the letters would be responses to what had been in the previous magazines. Most of the women wrote about their life experiences such as child birth, children, marriage, basically anything to do with family life.
Many of the women formed strong bonds and friendships with each other through the CCC and many corresponded and met up outside of the magazine.
The women also wrote their articles under a 'nom de plume', like many of us here on Dooyoo!
This book is a collection of some of the letters, spanning from 1935 to 1979. The author Jenna Bailey could not gain permission from all the families of the ladies involved but she managed to get consent from 11 contributors, which is ample to get an insight into how things were back then and what went on in these remarkable women's lives.
The book is divided into 7 chapters, each of which is made up of articles which relate to each other, such as the birth of their children, or coping with the war, marriage, grandchildren, growing old etc.
At first I found this set up a bit difficult to handle as there seemed to be so many different women and I couldn't keep track of who was who. But as I neared the end of the book I realised this was the only format in which the book would have worked.
The reason for this is because you start off with most of the women being young with young children, and as the book progresses they get older (obviously). Their lives change, their children grow up, some of them get divorced, lose loved ones, and you feel like you are living their lives with them. Each chapter is a collection of articles about similar experiences.
Sometimes it feels like you are snooping through someone's private diary because the women often shared a lot of personal information, information that they perhaps would not have even discussed with their own families.
What I particularly enjoyed about the book was that these were all just ordinary women expressing their feelings and opinions and struggling through life as we all do. But the times that they were living in, such as through the war were so different to modern times, and it's so interesting to read about how these women coped and the feelings that went with sitting through an air raid or not knowing if you are going to see your husband again.
It makes you look at your own life and all the things you complain about and realise that it's not so bad.
A lot of the women were well educated and independent, but once they were married they were tied to the home because the laws of the time didn't allow married women to have certain jobs. So I think some felt trapped & isolated, and the CCC was their lifeline into the world. Many admitted it was the highlight of their month to receive the latest edition.
For me, the final chapter in this book was the most poignant. The title is 'Growing Old' and many of the women were aging rapidly, it states in the book that between 1975 & 1980, 7 of the CCC women died and this was beginning to have it's affect on the writers.
Many of them were struggling to write through ill health, old age or just because they were suffering from the loss of their friends. This final chapter has exerts from 3 of the women, one of whom writes about her experiences with cancer as she deteriorates, another about her dying husband (also from cancer), and another writes about being looked after by her son and the many health problems she was experiencing (her last article written only a few days before her death).
It is so sad because once you are at the end of the book you feel you know some of these women and you have read about many personal aspects of their interesting and varied lives, and then here you are reading about them suffering, being unhappy and dying!
At the end the author has written very short biographies of each of the contributors, including year & places of birth, marriage, children, where they lived etc.
I would recommend this book to anyone who fancies something a bit different or wants an insight into some remarkable women's lives.
Summary: A collection of articles spanning 50 years written by ordinary women
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