Menus, Munitions and Keeping the Peace by Avalon Weston

The book Menus, Munitions and Keeping the Peace by Avalon Weston* – The Home Front Diaries of Gabrielle West 1914 – 1917 – has a fascinating story. Avalon Weston watched a BBC Series on war diaries and her cousin asked if this one was not written by their aunt. It turned out to be true, so she embarked on the journey to research the diaries and publish them. She was not able to find all of them, but enough to create the sense of what was life like for Gabrielle.

Menus, Munitions and Keeping the Peace by Avalon Weston

The diaries are, well, diaries, so there are days in which nothing is written about, there are people who I don’t know who they are (there is a family tree at the end of the book, but I didn’t consult it), and some days she writes a couple of sentence while in other days she writes a few pages. For all these reasons I gave the book 5 stars, it’s such a vivid and realistic account of her life that it’s really fascinating.

Gabrielle West wrote the diaries for her brother, who was in India, she was very talented at drawing and there are many drawings included in the diaries. As for her, she was a Vicar’s daughter and worked as a volunteer cook in convalescent hospitals before gaining a paid position at the canteens of the Farnborough Royal Aircraft Factory and then the Woolwich Arsenal. The diaries are not political as she was not interested in this aspects.

Also, her funny and naughty dog Rip was accompanying her everywhere, even gained a much deserved army pass as a dog munition worker, so he could come with her, legally. Her brother was so amused by this that he sent the story to a local newspaper in India and they printed the story! There is a newspaper article as a photography included in the book.

Menus, Munitions and Keeping the Peace by Avalon Weston

Details about the picture: –
My rating: 5/5 Stars
Would I recommend it: yes!
Published by: Pen and Sword History
Year it was published: 2016
Format: Hardcover
Genre(s): History – WWI
Pages: 184

About the author: Avalon trained as a nurse at Guy’s Hospital, London. As a mature student she gained a Social Policy degree at Bristol University and then trained as a midwife. She later worked for Volunteer Service Overseas in Albania and Namibia, and for Médicins Sans Frontièrs in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Mexico, and South Sudan.
She gained an MSc in Maternal Health and spent seven years as a community midwife in Plymouth, writing in her spare time and studying creative writing under Fay Weldon. She has self-published three novels: A Midwife Abroad, All the Sky, and Rubic’s Return.
Website & Social Media Links: Pen and Sword

*I was sent a copy of Menus, Munitions and Keeping the Peace by Avalon Weston for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

6 thoughts on “Menus, Munitions and Keeping the Peace by Avalon Weston”

  • Sounds like an amazing story! Beautiful lady on the cover, and nice to see her dog as well. She sounds like a fasciinating personality.

    • Aww, I didn’t mention. The picture is of Gabrielle West, when she was working with Red Cross. 🙂

  • I think this sounds so good! I like that it’s about an everyday person and how they helped during the war. The inclusion of Rip, the dog, is a bonus! This will have to go on my wishlist.
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    • For me it was interesting to read this because it is so different from Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth, based on her diaries, but transformed into a beautiful piece of literary work. This is the raw version and for a very different life, I did enjoy it a lot.
      Also, there are pictures of Rip in the book, alongside other pictures, of course. :))

  • I’m not generally a big fan of diary narrative, however this one I would probably find interesting, as I see it is a very short book and the illustrations would also help to fill in additional facts and complement the writing. It would be very difficult to rate this other than a 5 star read, as it is such a personal account of such a terrible time. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • I agree with you on the stars, but, at the same time, I really think this one deserved 5 stars because it was entertaining too. Rip, her dog, had all sort of adventures, she also has a horse, Diana, who is mentioned many times. Other parts are sad, but this is what life must have been like during the war… scary, but sometimes funny too.

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