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Book Review: Don't You Know There's a War On? by Janet Todd

Saturday, February 27, 2021 - 07:00
Book cover - Don't You Know There's a War On? by Janet Todd

This is a psychological study of the confined lives and expectations of women in post-WWII England. Using flashbacks, it traces the lives of a mother and daughter as every turn seems to snatch away what they felt they were promised, constantly requiring them to have less, to do less, and to be less (manifested as anorexia by the daughter).

I wouldn’t call it an “enjoyable read,”—it’s very much a literary novel rather than the genre literature I usually pick up. But there’s a strong artistry in the character depictions and an immense depth of understanding of the psychology of the times.

There are hints of queer elements in the story (the daughter is rescued by a lesbian friend, and there are some episodes in the flashbacks that I read as homoerotic, though they may not have been intended as such). But it’s very background and subtle.

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