Dear Ray

edited by Sara Goodwins
Loaghtan Books, 2011
(ISBN 978 1908 060 013)

Dear Ray, in rather similar vein, is a tour de force which – be warned – is addictive, as well as informative and exceptional value for money. Basically it’s a collection of letters written during World War 2 from Kay, his sweetheart and future wife, to Ray Hibberd, a Royal Artillery gunner. She’s a wonderful writer, and her frequent letters – bubbly, fluent, and fond but never syrupy – make really enjoyable, as well as touching, reading. What it is to be in love!

But this isn’t all. Sara Goodwins, the editor, has put the correspondence fully in context, with a well-informed commentary on the contemporary background. Indeed even if you don’t read the letters you will learn an awful lot about what the War meant to ordinary people. More than this, the book is splendidly-designed, with plenty of evocative illustrations, many in colour, and boxed panels with fascinating details of life in the early 1940s.

So many books of this kind are sloppily put together. This one is clearly the fruit of editorial work of exemplary quality. Places in Kent such as Molash and Sidcup figure. Warmly recommended. Large-sized softback, 192 pages, £13.95 (£16.50 by post within the UK – it’s quite heavy, though still handy!)

Arthur Percival, Faversham Society Newsletter