Book Review

High Heels & Beetle Crushers

High Heels & Beetle Crushers

The Life, Losses and Loves of an Officer and Lady

Jackie Skingley

Chronos Books, 14 Dec 2019

328 pages


Provided by NetGalley


I know the cover is meant to be military-ish, but it simply isn’t appealing, eye-catching, or attractive. There were so many things in this book that would have made perfect cover material, that to have this is such a letdown.

The story is the life of Jackie Skingley from her childhood until she had gone through her military career. She spares herself nothing going into her family life and shining lights into all the dark corners. The loss of her father in the Great War. Her mother’s remarriage, what type of man he turns out to be, and how he blights their lives. Her determination to escape this situation and do better for herself. Which is how she ends up applying for and getting accepted as a woman officer in HM Army.

Just the application process is extensive and thorough. Out of the large group of women she applies with, only seven of them get accepted. And this is at a time when women didn’t go into combat, didn’t handle weapons. So there was no weapons training for them and no combat positions or positions where they had to handle weapons. They didn’t even have their own sports area. Yet, they were drilled extensively on military history and such as well as current events and current military functions. Diplomacy, leadership, thinking on their feet. These were all skills they had to learn as second nature. As well as whatever their specific job was for the assignment they were given at whatever base they were sent to and general military tasks which were common to all military officers on any military post.

These women had to maintain their daily uniforms as well as dress uniforms in inspection-ready condition, plus maintain a civilian wardrobe to cover social functions they were expected to attend as officers at whatever command they were assigned to. This includes suits, cocktail dresses, and evening gowns with all the accessories. This was a very social era and women had to have clothes for so many events. Jackie shares many of the styles of the times with us as her mother was very fashion-conscious and an excellent seamstress, making many of her daughter’s clothes. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book, as I really like being able to visualize the women in their gorgeous clothes. I love the styles! And Jackie’s Mom really dressed her well.

Ms. Skingley hits many emotional topics in her memoirs, proving that life is truly an experience that no one escapes from unscathed. She hits the highs and lows of sexual molestation, child abuse, emotional abuse of a spouse, death of a spouse and parent, bullying, lesbianism, death of a fiance, and loss of reputation. She also covers striving and succeeding professionally and personally. Finding and losing love and getting a second chance at love. This is a book that really covers life in so many of its various faces. And it’s fantastic! I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys memoirs, memoirs of women, stories about the time after the Great War, British military, women in the military or just a great story. Cause this reads just like a great story, which it is, in spite of being a memoir.

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