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Stranger in the House (Abridged)
Womens' stories of men returning from the Second World War
Read by Lesley Manville

A moving and honest look at how war altered ordinary womens' lives forever.

During the course of 1945 and 1946, more than four million servicemen returned home after the most destructive war in history. Much as been written and spoken about men's experiences of the war but, uniquely, Stranger in the House focuses on the wome's sid of the story which has been largely ignored in the intefvening years. Their stories - human, poignant and often humorous - are testaments to a quiet, everyday courage which has been little recognised.

Stranger in the House took Julie Summers on a remarkable personal journey. During the three years spent researching the book, she travelled all round Britain and across the world meeting the feisty and courageous women who had rarely, if ever before, spoken about 'their war'. She found out how they coped when the door of the family home closed for the first time behind their 'returning hero'.

This recording comprises readings from Stranger in the House and interviews with four of the women interviewed for the book. Mollie Lodder married before the war and had two little girls. Her husband was killed in 1944 and she spent the war years with her mother and daughters waiting for news about her father who was a Japanese prisoner of war. He finally returned in September 1945. Amy Clifford was married in 1941 and had two children during the war. When her husband William came back in 1945 he had, in her words, lost all his nice ways with her. She soon knocked sense back into him with a swift crack over the head with her frying pan and they were married for over fifty years. Carol Cooper was two when her father left for war. He never returned and for most of her life she knew little about him. However, a chance discovery in 1994 of his wartime diary led her on a mission to get to know her father for the first time in her life. Stephanie Hess had no direct experience of the Second World War, but her grandfather did. When she and her family went to live with Gran’pa in Ireland in the 1970s he told her all about his wartime experiences and the adjustments needed afterwards. ‘Gran’pa’s tales telescoped the years, making the events of his prime seem alive to us in a way no book possibly could. And his stories live on to the next generation.’

Lesley Manville has performed widely on stage, in film and on television. Film includes Vera Drake, All or Nothing (Critics’ Circle Best Actress Award), Topsy Turvy, Secrets & Lies. Television work includes Cranford, North & South, and Top Girls.

Audio CD
Running time: 1 hour 44 minutes
Published by
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“The quavery voices of old soldiers have made powerful oral histories. Those of their wives, widows and daughters are seldom heard ... Strong and lucid, they sound like women who coped, first with absence, then with the troubled presence of a demobbed soldier or returning prisoner of war ... Their stories are unexpectedly touching.”
Related media

This audio CD is an abridged version of the book. To view details of the book, click here.

Nicola Barranger recently interviewed Julie about the book for To listen to this interview click here.

Radio 4 recently featured Stranger in the House on Woman's Hour. Click here to listen to the programme.

The following week, Radio 4 broadcast a selection of listeners' responses. Click here to listen to the programme.


Published in October 2008 by Chrome Audio

ISBN 978-0-9560740-0-3