Monday, 24 January 2011

Singled Out by Virginia Nicholson - Review

The blurb...
"In 1919, a generation of young women discovered that there were, quite simply, not enough men to go round, and the statistics confirmed it. After the 1921 Census, the press ran alarming stories of the 'Problem of the Surplus Women - Two Million who can never become Wives...'. This book is about those women, and about how they were forced, by a tragedy of historic proportions, to stop depending on men for their income, their identity and their future happiness"


This is a full on factual book, collated and delivered with finesse.

I saw this whilst on my WW1 expedition with my Dad last summer and was hooked from the cover alone. The write up on the back of the book sealed the deal and I sourced it when I got home.

From the first page I was enthralled. It took a while to get into the authors style of writing, but once there, the book flowed and educated me. I had not really thought much about the real legacy of  WW1 before I went to France, and even less about the role of British women in it. To that effect, I had not really pondered their fate when near on a million men failed to return home.

"Youth in Mourning" by George Clausen

This book changed all that and gave me a whole new outlook on that stalwart image of "the spinster with all the cats". These women had to help rebuild not only a grief stricken nation, but their own personal lives. In amongst all this - many (but not all) were liberated - long before the 60's and 70's -  from the lives they had been "born" to lead.
If you are interested in women's history -  then this book is a must.

An 8 out of 10 from me!


  1. This sounds right up my street- it's fascinating how out of such an awful tragedy some women not only raised themselves up but improved society to boot. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

  2. I've got this one too. Our bookshelves must be almost identical!

  3. P.S. Have you read 'London 1945' by Maureen Waller? It is excellent.

  4. I read this a while back and found it was quite haunting in a way..a good read into the lives of the "spinsters" of Britain.

  5. Predita - could not agree more!

    TCG - no - had not read that - tis now on my wish list!

    Catherine - thanks for stopping by! - yes - it IS haunting, you are so right.

  6. Such a good book! Whenever I feel a bit moany about my existence I think back about the stories of the single women working 10-12hours days 6 days a week as secretaries for a wage that would only buy them a tiny rented room and a portion or two of food a day, and who spent their Sundays sitting in the park as they often couldn't afford any other amusement unless taken on dates by men. Thanks goodness times have changed!


I'd love to hear what you think so feel free to comment away!


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