In January 1929, in a grimy, working-class neighborhood on the south bank of the Thames, Eileen Gwynneth Yvonne Redfern was born. From her inauspicious beginning as the unwelcome third occupant of Old Ma Tanner’s one-room apartment on Coin Street to an eighteen-year-old on the brink of university life, author Gwen Southgate weaves a fascinating story of a vanished time and a way of life on London’s old south bank.
In this memoir, telling tales of the 1930s and 1940s, Gwen provides a glimpse into a broader tapestry portraying the sweep of life in Britain as seen through the eyes of a young girl. Among its many colorful and lively characters are the big-hearted, chain-smoking Aunt-mum; yarn-spinning, practical joker Grampa Benson; and Gwen’s feisty, much-married mother. After a wartime evacuation from London opens wider horizons, Gwen shares how she managed to survive in a world where the mere stealing of a spoonful of rice pudding could lead to dire consequences and even the enjoyment of a Sunday walk was condemned as sinful.
Coin Street Chronicles paints a vivid and captivating portrait of Britain and her people before, during, and after World War II.