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David Reynolds: The Real Mrs Miniver, 25 April 2002

The Real Mrs Miniver 
by Ysenda MaxtoneGraham.
Murray, 314 pp., £17.99, November 2001, 0 7195 5541 8
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Mrs Miniver 
by Jan Struther.
Virago, 153 pp., £7.99, November 2001, 1 85381 090 8
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... Jan Struther to the end of her days. Her double life is the central theme of her granddaughter Ysenda MaxtoneGraham’s often moving biography. Jan Struther was the pen name of Joyce Anstruther, a tomboy figure who was very much the embodiment of her own favourite word, ‘zest’. In 1923 she married a Lloyd’s ...

A Girl Called Retina

Tom Crewe: You’ll like it when you get there, 13 August 2020

British Summer Time Begins: The School Summer Holidays, 1930-80 
by Ysenda MaxtoneGraham.
Little, Brown, 352 pp., £18.99, July 2020, 978 1 4087 1055 5
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... Arriving at the houses of my interviewees,’ Ysenda MaxtoneGraham writes in Terms and Conditions (2016), her account of life at girls’ boarding schools between 1939 and 1979,all ready to fire away with a question about how many Bunsen burners the school had in 1952, I was often assailed by a sharp memory to do with knickers: knickers that had to be worn over knicker linings; the difference between summer knickers and winter knickers; the humiliation of one’s knicker elastic ‘going’; the desire to conform and wear the official school knickers rather than the slightly different type one’s mother chose because she didn’t hold with going to the official uniform shop; the time someone had to write a letter of apology to the school laundry because she said she had sent her knickers to the wash but in fact that had been a white lie; knickers that only went to the wash once a week, and bloomers that only went once a fortnight ...

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