This is the story of a group of women who corresponded with one another via a secret magazine from 1935 until 1990. They called themselves the CCC - The Cooperative Correspondence Club - and wrote articles about their lives which one member would compile into a magazine which would be mailed in turn to each member. The magazine was born from a letter written to a mother's magazine in which the writer, a young mother, described how lonely and exhausted she was and desired some sort of occupation. The suggestion was made that perhaps the writer would like to exchange letters with other mothers, and the CCC came to be.
Jenna Bailey was a student looking for a subject for her master thesis when she came across these old magazines and lovingly turned the material into this book. There is commentary from her throughout the book which I appreciated, but the bulk of the book is made of these women's stories through the years. They wrote through all the phases of their lives, from childbirth and young motherhood, through the war, during working days or staying at home with the children, to divorce, and family illness, and finally their own mortality as they aged. There is such an immediacy to their writing. I felt heartbroken as one woman described her divorce from a man she was still in love with and so much sadness as they wrote about the illnesses of their children, both in infancy and as adults. Over time, the women met in person and developed relationships beyond the magazine's pages. The author has been fortunate enough to have met with a few of the remaining women and their families who were so generous in sharing the intimacy of their lives
This is a remarkable story in many ways. Remarkable in the length of time the magazine continued, the effort these women put into it, and the representation of lives lived in a particular moment in time. It is striking that as the magazine made its rounds among the women, they would make comments in the margins for the writing. Does that sound familiar? These women were the bloggers of their time.