I Remain Your Loving Wife Lizzie by Roger Jefferies
I Remain Your Loving Wife Lizzie is an interesting book. It sort-of-bridges the gap between non-fiction and fiction, as while the entire book is a factual account of a couple’s correspondence, the flow of it creates a narrative that would feel at home in any fiction work.
The book itself is a collection of genuine letters written by a woman named Lizzie to her husband, Tom, who was stationed in India between 1917 and 1919, during the First World War. The letters were found in a skip in Thanet and passed to the author, Roger Jefferies, who then transcribed and curated them. We only see Lizzie’s side of the conversation but, from the content of those letters and the references she makes, it is quite clear what is happening on both sides.
I found I Remain Your Loving Wife Lizzie really interesting and engrossing in its banality. Despite the whole backdrop of the Great War, it’s incredibly focused and down-to-Earth. It’s almost a romance story, following a couple on their struggles to stay in touch and come to terms with the long-term long-distance relationship, and the relationship that Tom has with his son. There are frequent references to Lizzie getting a new set of teeth and how that made her feel, or new shoes for their son, talking about how they both spent their Christmases or what their friends are doing lately. It’s a wonderfully insightful look at what the real-life day-to-day was like for the people left behind during the war.
When you first start reading this book, the first couple of letters might be quite jarring. They are transcribe as written, for the most part, and still retain their numerous spelling, grammar and general English mistakes. We are warned of this in the notes at the beginning and you stop noticing after the first couple of letters and start hearing Lizzie’s voice in your head reading them.
I didn’t think that I’d enjoy I Remain Your Loving Wife Lizzie nearly as much as I did. It’s very well put-together but it’s not the type of book that I normally would read. I’m glad that I branched out a little and gave it a chance because I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Lizzie and Tom.
© 2018 David Chitty
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
David Chitty was born and raised in Thanet in the 90s. He devotes most of his energies to writing fantasy fiction novels.