A mother writes to her faraway daughter: "I keep all your
letters. Someday you might want to do something with them." Those
words foretold Shared Histories, although neither woman
would live to see the book. This is the first known published
collection of letters to include correspondence between civilian
family members on both sides of the Atlantic during World War II.
Separated for most of their adult lives, Virginia Dickinson
Reynolds and her daughter, Virginia Potter, wrote to each other for
nearly forty years. This selection from their long exchange is
filled with unguarded reflections on current events, fashion, food,
travel, domestic life, leisure, and the upheaval of war. Readers
will also encounter various prominent English people and members of
the aristocracy, the American southern elite, and such familiar
names as Martha Graham, Walt Disney, and Ellen Glasgow.
Both women were born in Richmond, Virginia, and raised in
privileged circumstances. Virginia Dickinson Reynolds was the child
of a Confederate Army officer and was also a distant cousin of poet
Emily Dickinson. Virginia Potter traveled widely until she married
an English Army officer and settled in his country. The women's
intensely close bond shines through Shared Histories as,
from time to time, do their class-conscious, Anglo-Saxon
sensibilities. Sometimes poignant, sometimes bristling, always
candid, these letters portray private worlds of tradition
confronted with global change.
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