Out on the 22

War Diaries, 1939–1945 - Astrid Lindgren, Sarah Death

Disclaimer: ARC via Netgalley

Like most young girls, my introduction to Lindgren was via the Pippi Longstocking books. I have to admit, though, I prefer Ronia the Robber’s Daughter. I’m not sure why. Pippi has the horse after all. Despite my love for Pippi and Ronia, I do not know much about Lindgren’s personal life. The War Diaries, covering the years 1949-1945, go some way to correct that oversight.

The ARC I read notes that the diaries were a combination of newspaper clippings and Lindgren’s own entries. The ARC does not include the clippings, but in some cases, provides summaries, but the clippings are largely absent. This is somewhat understandable considering that they too would have to be translated. Still, the absence is felt in some ways, mostly because at time Lindgren is writing in response to them and the historical context would be a little welcome for the American reader. Even someone who has a good general knowledge of the Second World War will look up a few things that she mentions.

This criticism does not mean that the diaries are not worth reading because they are. It isn’t just because the war diaries cover the period of Lindgren’s work on Pippi Longstocking but because they give another perspective to the war. Lindgren is writing as a Swede whose life is affected by the war, but no way near the way it affected those that lived in the Nazi controlled countries or even in parts of London. There are fears of food shortages, but Lindgren does seem to live in a time, if not quite pretty, then not that of shortage either.

Yet, the diaries do contain a dose of fear of what could come and what is happening. Lindgren reports rumors as they come be they from the European mainland or the British Isles. What also comes across quite clearly is her anger at Hitler and those in power for the destruction of civilization. This almost seems like an over the top statement, but it isn’t, not really.

The diaries are not simply filled with war news, but also with the struggles of surviving during war time and the realities of everyday life. Lindgren writes about the concerns that she has for her husband and her children, in particular how they are doing during their schooling. The diaries are wonderful contrast of the ordinary with the outrage.

Sounds frighteningly timely.