Florence “Flo” Smith – Now and Then | Chris Saul-Smith

My mother-in-law embarked on writing her memoir in her mid-eighties and it promised to be a fascinating document. Sadly she was unable to finish it through lack of mental stamina and we did not have the foresight to tape record it for her.

Fortunately, Chris Saul-Smith did have the prescience to tape record his grandmother’s account of her life. The result is an incredibly compelling document which chronicles the years from the end of the nineteenth century to the late 1960s from the perspective of an ordinary, working class Londoner.

Having read this wonderful memoir in its original paper version, I am delighted that it has been published as an ebook. The author was a drama student in 1969 when he interviewed his grandmother, taped her reminiscences and subsequently transcribed them for his college dissertation.

Grandmother was the Florence “Flo” Smith of the title and she was in her early seventies at the time. Apart from the introduction and a short end-piece, the words are Flo’s. She recounts her Edwardian childhood; the ups and downs of family life, love and marriage; her experiences of two world wars and the grinding poverty of the 1930s. The memoir ends with her reflections on the present day as she saw it in 1969.

Flo’s observations are fascinating and her authentic voice resonates throughout the transcript. Her insights, descriptions and explanations are incisive, at times witty and always full of interest. Her comments are particularly pertinent to understanding the role of women as daughters, wives and workers during that era.

This book is an absolute gem for anyone with an interest in family memoirs and the social history of the twentieth century.

Florence “Flo” Smith – Now and Then is available to download in the Amazon Kindle Store.

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