For the Duration: A Lighthearted WAAF Memoir by Felicity Ashbee might be non-fiction, but it sure doesn’t read that way. This is definitely a historical read worth picking up, no matter how far out of your comfort zone it may be.
“War?” my American friends had said, “What war?”
“Hitler,” I replied.
“There isn’t going to be a war,” they repeated complacently.
But I knew better.
Thus begins a very engaging and entertaining memoir about Felicity Ashbee’s experiences in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in WWII. I have been trying to increase my non-fiction reading lately, and I made a great choice with For the Duration. Before I go into the book – we have to talk about the cover. Do you guys like it? The picture is a woodcut illustration Felicity herself did for the WAAF Magazine in 1940.
For the Duration is peppered with great illustrations – from photographs to several of Felicity Ashbee’s original drawings.
I actually learned some interesting things about WWII in general. Did you know that no major military operations occurred in the initial months following Britain’s declaration of war on Germany? That period is known as the “Phoney War.” It was during this time that Felicity and the other women of the WAAF were trying to figure out their place.
For the Duration also covered a lot of the small day-to-day things that Felicity Ashbee remembered. From putting on amateur theatricals (which included songs about worn out knickers) to catching bedbugs to challenges to drink beer without touching the glass with one’s hands.
It does turn into a bit of a see-saw. Some parts make for very easy reading while some sections are really dry and hard to follow – but hey. Such is life (and this is a memoir after all). Overall, I definitely enjoyed my reading experience.