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As Green as Grass Growing Up Before, During & After the Second World War by Emma Smith

As Green as Grass Growing Up Before, During & After the Second World War

Biography / Autobiography   eBook Favourites   

Sue Baker's view...

The photographs of Emma Smith as a young girl in the 1940’s show a strikingly modern girl seemingly ahead of her time and reading of her life confirms her individuality, she experienced an unusual war as a bargee (or boater to use the correct term), escaped to France, began a career as a writer and later fell in love with her to-be husband who tragically died at the young age of 43. She has a precise eye for human foible and a reading style that has you lapping up the pages, as evocative and every bit as enjoyable as her Great Western Beach.

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As Green as Grass Growing Up Before, During & After the Second World War by Emma Smith

Uprooted from her beloved Great Western Beach, Emma Smith moves with her family from Newquay to the Devonshire village of Crapstone. But the dust has hardly settled when tragedy strikes, and Emma's father, a DSO-decorated hero of the Great War, is so frustrated by the hardship of life as a lowly bank clerk and by his thwarted artistic ambitions that he suffers a catastrophic breakdown - from which disaster Emma's resourceful mother rallies courageously. Then, in 1939, the war again becomes a reality. Emma's sister Pam at once enlists with the WAAF and Jim, her politically minded brother, after initially declaring himself a pacifist, joins the RAF. But what should Emma, aged only sixteen, do? Secretarial collage equips her for a job with MI5 but it's dull work and Emma yearns for fresh air. She is rescued by a scheme taking on girls as crew for canal boats. Freedom! The war over, Emma travels to India with a documentary film company, lives in Chelsea, falls in love in France and spends time in Paris where she sets about mending a broken heart by writing her first novel. Sitting beside the Seine during a heatwave with her typewriter on her knees, she is unwittingly snapped by legendary photographer Robert Doisneau. The zest, thirst for life and buoyant spirits of Emma, as she recalls in evocative detail the quality of England in the thirties and forties give As Green as Grass the feel of a ready-made classic.


Smith tells the story of her teenage and adult years up to 1951 with her customary verve, precision and humour ... As Green as Grass, she says, is definitely her last book ... But there is a twinkle in her eye. I hope it's not true. I'm desperate to know what happens next - Observer

A delight - Spectator

There are memoirs that barrel along happily, due to the swift clip of a life well lived, and there are those lifted by the vivacity of the voice. Emma Smith's As Green As Grass exhibits a rare marriage of both virtues ... A wonderful journey beautifully told, and like all great memoirs, remains with the reader like the echo of friendship - Independent on Sunday

About the Author

Emma Smith was born Elspeth Hallsmith in 1923. Maidens' Trip was first published in 1948 and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize. The Far Cry, a novel, was published the following year and was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In 1951 Emma Smith married and moved to Wales, where she published children's books, short stories and, in 1978, her novel The Opportunity of a Lifetime. In 2008 The Great Western Beach, her memoir of her Cornish childhood, was published. Since 1980 Emma Smith has lived in the London district of Putney.

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Book Info

Publication date

31st July 2014


Emma Smith

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Bloomsbury Publishing PLC


320 pages


Biography / Autobiography
eBook Favourites




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