Volume II Number 3
November 3, 1995

image Blackouts to Bright Lights:
Canadian War Bride Stories.

Edited by Barbara Ladouceur and Phyllis Spence.
Vancouver: Ronsdale Press, 1995. 299pp, paper, $16.95.
ISBN 0-921870-33-7

Subject Headings:
War brides-Canada-Biography.
War brides-Great Britain-Biography.
World War, 1939-1945-Personal narratives, Canadian.

Grade 9 and up / Ages 14 and up.
Review by Grace Shaw.

It is fitting that this celebratory book about the lives of Canadian war brides has been published on the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the war. The editors have transcribed the oral histories of thirty-six of the forty-eight thousand Canadian war brides into an upbeat collection of reminiscences. There is perhaps an emotional distance from the events as women in their seventies are looking back fifty years and giving a brief synopsis of their lives. Individually the stories are all interesting but a bit formulaic: where each bride was at the time war broke out; how she met her future husband; their subsequent marriage and life in Canada.

These courageous women helped their country win the war, doing everything no one knew women could do. Equally courageously, they faced life in a new and foreign land. Although they barely knew their husbands, most overcame the trauma of living far from home and helped build a new country.

The faithful reader does tire a bit and wonder whether all of the stories are needed to present this colourful picture. Probably the funniest story is of the keen young wife who painted the outhouse with white enamel in the middle of a prairie winter; her husband was surprised all right.

The simple language and somewhat choppy sentences wear a little as well. The five personal narratives at the end (written by the brides themselves) have a more varied literary quality.

But Blackouts to Bright Lights remains a fitting tribute to the courage and resourcefulness of the British war brides, providing an important part of the social history of the Second World War.

Adults and teens, read and enjoy.


Grace Shaw is a teacher at Vancouver Community College.

Copyright © 1995 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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