Muriel Newmarch was born in North London in 1903. She died in 2009, aged 106, in a care home in Sussex. Judith Bruce is her daughter, and Funny How Things Turn Out- part biography, part memoir - tells the story of both her mother and herself, which in turn traces the unprecedented changes to women's lives during the 20th Century.
The first half of the book chronicles Muriel's world through the Zeppelin raids of WW1, a painfully stilted class system, and marriage and motherhood in the 1930s - then her daughter, Judith, picks up the first-person narrative as a mischievous child in the 1940s and we stay with her until the end of the book.
Woven artfully through the episodic chapters are the loves, aspirations and disappointments of two 'ordinary' women. Written with an understated elegance, Judith Bruce brings to life a barely remembered England of satin dresses at Swan & Edgar's, liberty bodices at grammar school, and English summer days where silent fathers mowed the lawn in polished shoes and unsuitable boyfriends smoked Player's Navy Cut.
As we move through the post-war years from austerity and to prosperity, and Judith's working life at the BBC, the voice could almost be that of Alan Bennett. Even more so when charting the poignancy of Muriel's fading days, failing body and disappearing memory. It is a remarkable and accomplished portrait of life, love and death.
After training as a teacher, Judith Bruce (née Miles) joined the BBC in 1960 as a clerk. By 1972 she was a Television Research Assistant and by 1974 a Producer. While working at the BBC she wrote stories for young children, which were broadcast both on Playschool and You & Me.
After taking early retirement in 1991, she went on to run the Battle Arts Festival in East Sussex for 11 years and then turned her hand to writing prose, receiving an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Sussex in 2008. She has previously been published as a poet under the name Judith Warrington. She enjoys playing bridge, cooking, entertaining and water-colour painting - and of course watching films and television (she is a voting member of BAFTA). She lives on the Sussex coast
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