by Eileen Elizabeth Gidney
A former schoolmistress remembers Palestine
in the wartime years 1939-45
In this enjoyable and informative book, the author recalls her experiences as a young schoolmistress in the wartime years, during which lived and worked in Palestine, teaching English at girls’ schools in Jerusalem and Haifa. This was, of course, before the foundation of the modern state of Israel and her pupils were girls from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds, making her observations and comments on day-to-day life in the region of considerable historical interest.
In her second year at the school, in an emergency, she took over the role of housemistress, in charge of about 50 girls aged 12 to 18 years, aided by a British ma-tron and local staff. She made friends with staff members and parents of different nationalities and was invited by some to visit their homes and spend time with their families, enabling her to experience at first-hand many aspects of life in the region.
During school holidays she visited neighbouring countries in the Middle East, in-cluding Syria, Lebanon and Egypt and, once again, her impressions of these places as they were in the 1940s, since when they have changed in so many ways, provide an interesting historical perspective, whilst her knowledgeable commentary on the ancient history of the region is equally illuminating.