A compelling memoir of post-war Britain. Jackie Skingley grew up with limited career choices but joining the Women’s Royal Army Corps offered her a different life, living and working in a military world, against the backdrop of the Cold War. Packed full of stories reflecting the changing sexual attitudes prior to the arrival of the pill and the sexual revolution of the mid 60s, Skingley’s memoir denotes a shift in the political and social fabric of the era. Follow her relationships with the men in her life from finding her first true love, which through a cruel act of fate was denied her, to embarking on a path of recovery.
Whilst this book is not set in France, the author is, and as well as sharing first names, we also live in the same part of France and have attended writing workshops and events together over the years. I was delighted to be asked if I’d like to review her first memoir and interestingly enough, as I read it, I discovered many of the places mentioned in the book, were places from my earlier years too. It is a small world!
This memoir takes us from Jackie’s early childhood recollections of the war, to happy times spent with her great aunt and uncle, not so happy times with her stepdad, and then onto her new life in the Womens Royal Army Corps in the 1960’s. Growing up surrounded by military towns, Jackie’s life had plenty of military connections before she decided that this direction might be her chance to gain independence and adventure.
Jackie certainly has a story to tell of a fascinating era where women were making their mark, but as we follow her journey, this book becomes a heartfelt memoir of personal loss too. It was a privilege to witness the ups and downs of her time at officer cadet training, her visits to military bases in Germany and the roles she went on to have as an officer, even if some of the military terms and references were a little lost on me. She also shares her blossoming romances along the way and not surprisingly, her young men were all in the military too and her descriptions of the balls and her dresses, lovingly made by her mother, were vibrantly brought to life. She paints a great picture of the camaraderie of military life, the socialising and the rule breaking too, giving a great insight to what it felt like to belong to the extended military family.
This is a beautifully written, honest memoir, where hard work, heartache and happiness all play a part, and it left me keen to read more.
For Jackie Skingley, adventure has been her quest since childhood. Life with the British army allowed Jackie to live all over the world and gain huge appreciation for different cultures and customs. Since 1999, Jackie and her husband have lived in the Charente region of South West France where Reiki, jewellery making, painting and mosaics, as well as writing keep her fully occupied. Member of the Charente Creative Writing Group, mother and grandmother.
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