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A shared interest in movies brought Betty Swallow of London and Helen Bradley of Kansas City, MO, together as correspondents (they met through writing to Picture Play magazine), from 1938 through World War II and until 1950. This volume presents faithful transcriptions of Betty's letters to Helen, which are now in the collections of Westminster College in Fulton, MO. Betty writes with verve, wit, and strong opinions about her work, family, politics, fears, frustrations, leisure-time pursuits, and her abiding love for various stage and screen stars, especially John Gielgud. Her letters are detailed yet conversational; for example, during the Blitz she might describe the terrible air raid the night before but also ask Helen to send a particular movie magazine to boost morale. Betty's writings become not just a portrait of herself, including her strong and disturbing anti-Semitism, but of London life at an extraordinary time. There are a few distracting editorial mistakes, including a failure to understand British slang, but the footnotes about personalities and films no longer popular are helpful. Specialists and general readers will both appreciate this book.
—Megan Hahn Fraser