Book Review: The Girl From Station X

This review was written for Lovereading UK. The book will be available to order from them once published in March 2014.

Written largely from her mother’s personal diaries, Elisa Segrave’s book, ‘The Girl From Station X’, provides an interesting account of a privileged young woman’s life before, during and after the Second World War. It is, however, much more than just a memoir. It is obvious from the beginning that the author has issues with the way her mother treated her throughout her life. The book provides a sometimes brutally raw account of complex family relationships over several generations, and the fallout that these generate.

The book quotes extensively and directly from the diaries, interspersing these passages with the author’s opinions. Although adding authenticity to the unfolding tale, I found this approach quite difficult to engage with at times. The chapters covering the war years in particular contain a great deal of detail about intelligence processing, battles and strategies as well as the day to day lives of those involved.

We are introduced to many people, making it hard at times to remember their relevance. The author jumps back and forth between the time being covered by the diaries and later times that she can recall. My impression was that she is justifying her personal resentments as much as telling her mother’s life story.

A protagonist finding strength in adversity is a common enough theme, and the story does cover how the author’s mother rose to the challenge of the war. It is rare, however, to read a memoir that does not attempt to tug at the heartstrings, but provides such an honest study of human weaknesses.