'It is as if I have been waiting for someone to ask me these questions for almost the whole of my life'
From 1945, more than four million British servicemen were demobbed and sent home after the most destructive war in history. Damaged by fighting, imprisonment or simply separation from their loved ones, these men returned to a Britain that had changed in their absence.
In Stranger in the House, Julie Summers tells the women's story, interviewing over a hundred women who were on the receiving end of demobilisation: the mothers, wives, sisters, who had to deal with an injured, emotionally-damaged relative; those who assumed their fiancés had died only to find them reappearing after they had married another; women who had illegitimate children following a wartime affair as well as those whose steadfast optimism was rewarded with a delightful reunion.
Many of the tales are moving, some are desperately sad, others are full of humour but all provide a fascinating account of how war altered ordinary women's lives forever.
Julie Summers is a writer, researcher and historian. Her books include Fearless on Everest: The Quest for Sandy Irvine, and a biography of her grandfather, the man who built the 'real' bridge over the River Kwai, The Colonel of Tamarkan. She lives in Oxford.