A Chill in the Air: An Italian War Diary, 1939-1940 (New York Review Books Classic by Iris Origo:
Chamberlain’s pronouncement about Poland has been received with unexpected moderation in the press and with some enthusiasm privately – as being likely to put a brake on Hitler.
A country neighbour (small farmer – a shrewd, sensible, elderly man) has just been to lunch, and has made no bones about expressing his disgust at recent events. He is particulary indignant at Mussolini’s phrase about peace being “a menace to civilization.” “What about Sweden and Norway?” he says. “Aren’t they more civilized than us? And happier? Are the working classes less well treated there?” (This is unexpected; he would not have said this five years ago.) He tells us that all his peasants, like ours, are terrified. One young woman, who is just expecting her first baby, prays daily that it will be a girl. “What’s the use of having boys if they’ll take them away from me and kill them?”