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Arnold, Gladys.

Toronto, James Lorimer. 1987. 222pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-88862-875-7. CIP

Grades 10 and up
Reviewed by Irene J. Karasick

Volume 16 Number 2
1988 March

Gladys Arnold was Paris correspondent for Canadian Press from 1936 to 1941 and information officer with the Free French in Canada from 1941 to 1947. One Woman's War is the story of a young journalist wanting to see firsthand the conflict between fascism and democracy. Arnold appears to have set out to inform the reader factually about the events of wartime as she saw them through the people she knew and met in France and those she later worked with for the Free French in Canada, However, the story also becomes one of a loss of innocence and of the maturation of a young and courageous reporter, a young woman who becomes deeply involved in a cause.

As the narrative moves the story along smoothly, the author introduces her readers to her Canadian colleagues and friends involved in the war effort and, in particular, in the effort on behalf of the Free French. Particularly interesting is the interview with Charles de Gaulle. She draws the reader into the lives of the French nationals who became her dear friends and graphically relates their experiences-the upheavals, the displacements, the bitterness, the suffering, the coping and tenacious spirit in the face of defeat. Wherever the young reporter landed, she wrote of what she saw. Thus the reader is given a well-rounded overview of the peripheral happenings, events that remained in the shadows of the headlines during those terrible years of World War II -the parting of parents and children as they were shipped from England to safer shores of Canada.

Although the style is journalistic in that the information is factual, candid and informative, the writing is well balanced with passages of the perceptions, feelings, opinions and comments from the author, her friends, and compatriots. An example of that blend is in this passage:

The reunion with my dear French friends was a mixture of joy and sorrow, for I had to learn of all those who were missing, those who had been shot or who had died prematurely from privation. I had to look into those eyes brimming with love, but dull with sorrow and realization of what human beings can do to one another. I had to see the pale, unhealthy skin, the starch-bloated stomachs of the children...

In spite of the hardships and suffering reported, the mood of the book is one of hope and the resolve to overcome.

Arnold's chronicle of both the war years, seen through the eyes of a woman deeply involved in the lives and work of the Free French, and Canada's involvement in disseminating information is an appealing, interesting, and informative read.

Irene J. Karasick, Winnipeg, Man.
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