The Girl from Station X My Mother's Unknown Life

by Elisa Segrave

Biography / Autobiography Books with reviews by our Reader Review Panel History

LoveReading View on The Girl from Station X My Mother's Unknown Life

July 2013 Non-Fiction Book of the Month.

Combining a thrilling first-person account of life during the Second World War and an intimate family memoir, this is an original and highly effecting read. In The Girl From Station X, Segrave opens the pages of her mother's diaries to us and recreates her extraordinary life as a debutante turned code breaker both before and after the war.

The Girl from Station X My Mother's Unknown Life Synopsis

'A typical day on the 4 to 12 shift, as I am at present, so that the sheer agony of it may be placed on record for me to look back on, perhaps one day in the far distant future when this period may be seen like a nightmare and be mercifully semi-observed in oblivion so that I shall remember only the glory of my position as the first and only woman on the watch and holding the most responsible position of any woman in the Hut.' October 12th 1942. When Elisa Segrave uncovered a cache of wartime diaries written by her mother, she had no idea that she would be brought face to face with a character utterly different from the troubled woman who had become so reliant on her. Now, on the pages before her, Segrave encountered Anne Hamilton-Grace, a young woman who had grown up in immense privilege and luxury but who leapt at the first opportunity to join the war effort. Through determination she excelled in the world of secret intelligence. Leaving the world of finishing school and hunt balls behind her, Anne's journey took her to Hut 3 at Bletchley Park, to Bomber Command in Grantham and, finally, to a newly liberated Germany. In The Girl From Station X, Segrave opens the pages of her mother's diaries to us and recreates her life both before and after the war. At once a vivid recreation of a dramatic era and a powerful portrait of a mother-daughter relationship, this is an original and affecting work about what it means to come to know someone through their writing; about how Anne unwittingly found a way to link her life with her daughter's decades after they had given up trying to communicate.

The Girl from Station X My Mother's Unknown Life Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Natasha Radford - 'I am truly grateful to Segrave for sharing such private moments of her family's life with the reader. The combination of fascinating insights into life during WW2 and a world of high society makes The Girl from Station X difficult to put down.' Read full review >
  • Clare Topping - 'The book, revealing first hand, as it does, someone’s experiences during the war is an interesting read.' Read full review >
  • Lydia Roshanzamir - 'Although I did not enjoy The Girl from Station X, it may appeal to those more captivated by the intricacies of family relationships, particularly between a mother and daughter.' Read full review >
  • Maggie Crane - ' It is interesting to enter a world at a vital time in our history and realise the individuals involved were damaged even before war conditions entered their lives.' Read full review >
  • Lisa Redmond - 'A fascinating glimpse into a time of great change for women and a perfect read for fans of William Boyd’s Restless or Sebastian Faulks Charlotte Grey.' Read full review >
  • Susan Walsh - 'This is the most ENTHRALLING book I've read this year...You find yourself completely absorbed in the story and each turn of the page makes wonderful reading.' Read full review >
  • Barbara Gaskell - 'Do you ever really know your mother? Who was she before you existed? An interesting read, which left me wanting to know more about Anne.' Read full review >
  • Kath Whitfield - 'Beautifully written memoir by Elisa Segrave. I have never read anything like it before.' Read full review >
  • Lynn Curtis - 'A fascinating, if very sad, case study of an almost uniquely unhappy family.' Read full review >
  • Annette Woolfson - 'All-in-all this was an interesting insight into family dynamics and one woman’s attempts to understand the enigma that was her mother.' Read full review >
  • Sarah Mustafa - 'This book is both a touching and sad memoir of Anne as well as an insightful depiction of a mother-daughter relationship, which makes it appealing and relevant to a wide range of readers.' Read full review >
  • Jan Kirkcaldy - 'An enlightening story in many ways and well worth reading.' Read full review >
  • Siobhan McDowell - 'Truly rewarding and well researched.' Read full review >
  • Dorothy Calderwood - 'I found it to be a compelling read – a fascinating insight into a bygone age and a poignant portrayal of a mother–daughter relationship.' Read full review >
  • Kate Thacker - 'Beautiful. This is what I think this book is. I would say I was hooked to know more from the first page, if not the first sentence.' Read full review >
  • Kath Thornton - 'As the centenary of the First World War nears, the book gives the reader an insight into the role of women during the Second World War.' Read full review >
  • Sian Spinney - 'This true tale reads like a story and is engrossing from the beginning.' Read full review >
  • Nikki Whitmore - 'Knowing what the future holds for both mother and daughter make this an especially poignant read. This book might break your heart a little.' Read full review >
  • Phyl Smithson - 'Extremely interesting, very well written and very different portrayal of the complexities of a mother-daughter relationship.' Read full review >


Click here to read more reviews.

The Girl from Station X My Mother's Unknown Life Press Reviews

'This combines intimate family memoir with extensive material about the code-breaking work at Bletchley Park, at which her mother excelled.'
The Bookseller

'This compelling memoir offers a fascinating window onto the intense, sexually liberated world of wartime London and postwar ruined Germany. It is also an impressively honest, bruised account of a woman who finds herself face to face with a dead mother she realises she has never seen clearly before.'
Lara Feigel, author of The Love-Charm of Bombs

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781781312506
Publication date: 06/03/2014
Publisher: Union Books
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781781312506
Publication date: 6th March 2014
Author: Elisa Segrave
Publisher: Union Books
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 336 pages
Genres: Biography / Autobiography, Reader Reviewed Books, History, Reading Groups,
Categories: Biography: historical, political & military,

About Elisa Segrave

Elisa Segrave is the author of The Diary of a Breast, about her battle with cancer, and the novel Ten Men (both published by Faber.) She writes for many newspapers and magazines, including the London Review of Books, the Guardian, the Independent and The Lady.   Below is a Q&A with this author.   1. How did you first come across your mother’s diaries? In autumn 1997, my mother’s large house in Sussex was put up for sale. She had had Alzheimer’s already for five years; she was almost helpless, and for a year ...

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