Title: Wild Water Lilies: The Wartime Diary of a Young Girl
Author: Cynthia Kahn
Publisher: Beack Publications UK
“This diary was written in South Wales at the same time as Anne Frank was writing hers in Holland. Only 22 miles separated the shores of the British Isles from the occupied countries of Europe. An invasion of Nazi forces was expected day by day.
“Against this grim background, the author then 13 and a half years old started to write until the day that victory for the Allies was declared.” Thus writes Joyce Roseman, the author’s sister.
While housed in national libraries and museums as a portrait of Anglo-Jewry during the war, Kahn’s diary often bears as much resemblance to Bridget Jones’ diary as it does to Anne Frank’s. Full of the whimsy and angst of adolescence, Cynthia Kahn describes a life full of air raids, blackouts and war rations – as well as trips to the cinema and picnics by the cliffs. It is a tale of loss and of triumph, of idealism and disappointment, of love, hope and faith.
Cynthia Kahn published her diary after being encouraged to do so by members of a writing class she was attending after reading snippets of it.
Written with buoyant humor and intelligence, whimsy and depth, readers follow Cynthia as she encounters war and first love, and deals with her growing thirst for religion, Zionism and independence amid antagonism and resistance.
Besides the madness of a world at war, at a very young age, she contends with having to take care of a baby sister, helping her mother run the family business and the resistance of the family of the boy she loves. A pretty, lively girl, she is courted by two very enamored suitors between whom she must choose and copes with it all with great humor, insight and wit – and a bravery that many people on the home front had to exhibit but got no medals for.
Kahn’s diary is replete with interesting characters we come to know and love (or love less) who are no less real because they were so young so very long ago.
Both a historical portrait of Wales and England during the Second World War and an intimate portrait of a Jewish family and their friends and neighbors in Aberdare and its environs, Wild Water Lilies is a colorful portrait of a bleak time expertly brought to life by the artistic pen of Cynthia Kahn. A truly unique read.
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