Book 14 – Can Any Mother Help Me by Jenna Bailey

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Social Networking isn’t really that new and it doesn’t require digital technology.

In 1935, a group of disparate women from across the UK set up the Co-operative Correspondence Club. For nearly 60 years, the members submitted articles to an editor, who stitched them together into the sole copy of the club’s fortnightly magazine. The magazine was circulated around the membership, who added marginal comments as it went around.

The title of this book refers to the original letter in Nursery World magazine, where a young mother wrote about her loneliness and want of intellectual stimulation. A number of women replied in kind and that is how the idea for the club started.

Amazingly, the club kept going for 60 years, until the remaining membership became too old and frail to carry on. This book provides a selection of the club’s output, taken from the few surviving files.

I do love this kind of social history, which is very similar to some of the material from the mass observation archive, though it has a more personal touch of course. The past really is a foreign country and I am always amazed to read how different things were for women even in my own country just a few decades ago.

And the parallels between the way their relationships developed and modern social networking really are striking. So it’s quite apt that I’m writing this the day before I travel to York for the 10th anniversary party of http://www.asdfriendly.org which provides such a lifeline of information and friendship to families across the UK affected by autism.

A lovely little book and a quick and easy read; I definitely recommend it.

We’re on economy drive here so I’m going to spend a few weeks raiding my bookshelves for unread volumes. I hesitate to confess this, but I have all my fiction books arranged alphabetically  by author, regardless of genre. So I am going to start at the first shelf and pick up the first unread book.

*drum roll*

It’s Windsor Castle by Harrison Ainsworth, which apparantly belonged to my husband’s Grandpa and is a tale of derring-do set in Tudor times. I’ll let you know how I get on.

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