An Unexpected Journey

Life in the Colonies: A Woman’s Role

The autobiographical memoirs of one woman’s life in the Colonies at empire’s end – a fascinating record of an era now past.

Travelling into some distant, challenging and at times dangerous regions of the world during episodes of political unrest, these autobiographical memoirs follow Margaret Reardon’s role, as the wife of Patrick Reardon, in the process of supporting and preparing the population of several countries on the eve of their formation of independence.

The details of the conditions and worries of the local population during the period of Military Occupation in Eritrea are fascinating, as is their adaptation to this new way of life after their time in the services in WWII. The frustrations and successes of her role alongside her husband during his time in the Colonial Service in Tanganyika and the deprivations and trials that her everyday life entailed only served to strengthen her resolve to make a difference for those local peoples around her through her voluntary work.

This autobiographical memoir was based on her diaries that were written at the time. It forms an intriguing insight into the author’s role as she accompanied her husband through his ascension through the ranks of the Colonial Service, where he ultimately worked at a senior level. 

Her strong role as a woman making a difference to those less fortunate than herself and seeking to improve the lives of women and children she comes into contact with, is inspirational. Each new location brought rewards and challenges and her approach to these, sprinkled with humour, makes for some entertaining reading.