4 September 1998

Funny and sad memoirs of brave, stout-hearted woman

JOY Hormann was a very strong woman, who defied convention when she married a German prisoner of war sent to work on her familys Shropshire farm. Her fortitude was also tested when she and Fritz, whom she nicknamed "Sir," worked side by side to develop a successful farming business at Fan Farm, Myddfai.

Love from Joy* is a three-volume collection of letters written by this Carmarthenshire farmers wife to her sister over a 20-year period. They vividly chronicle farming and family events in a warm and humorous style, but are, nevertheless, a revealing piece of social history

Her letters record the stress, tears and laughter, and everything is set in the context of the changing seasons. Readers soon realise that she had the eyes of a true countrywoman, but what emerges even more forcibly is the picture of a devoted wife and mother.

While never sentimental, the correspondence is full of references that reveal her unshakeable respect for the farm livestock that generated the familys income, and her love for her pets.

Clearly Joy Hormann was an enthusiast. Her gardening, her community work, the activities of her beloved WI are all reported in detail. And there are her poems – sometimes funny, sometimes touching. One entitled Sight, which she dedicated to Pop, her late father, describes the countryside he could not see after going blind.

If the letters were not published privately by the recipient and Joys daughter Frieda they would have been more heavily edited, and possibly reduced to a single volume. However, in this form they provide a very detailed, long, but easy to read, account of life on a Welsh family farm, warts and all. RD

*Love from Joy, Volume 1 by Joy Hormonn is available from Hallmark Design and Print, Market Drayton, Shropshire, (£4.95). Volume 2 will be published this summer. All profits go to Hope House Hospice, Oswestry.