25 Dec 2008 – from Bridget
Third Christmas Persephone! This book appears to be about trying to keep a country house running in WW2 but is a lot more than that. Cressida is trying to keep a beautiful big manor house going, and takes in paying guests, refugees from the War in different ways. She was not born to cook and serve, but finds joy and comfort in doing so. The guests are a mix of high and low armed forces personnel, an irascilble Aunt from London and a man recovering from the concentration camps. Life here is contrasted with Charles Valery’s experiences as he’s blown up at sea and floats on the endless waves. Many of the characters talk and think about why war happens, why individuals go to war, what will happen… and this aspect is made more poignant by the fact that the book was published in 1944, so right in the thick of things when the end was not clear.
A small, but memorable book, beautifully done and the introduction and Playfair’s life are very interesting.