21 Jan 2010 – from Ali
This is an intriguing book. Set in a thinly-disguised Edinburgh in the middle of WWII, it was actually written (as I discovered the wartime Provincial Lady book was the other day) in 1942 so there really is a sense of not knowing what was going to happen. After a glorious opening scene at a domestic service agency, our heroine, Rose, decides to run her, fairly large and oddly-arranged, house herself. Fortunately the marvellous Mrs Childe comes to help her in the mornings, and sets about educating her on the mysteries of cooking and cleaning. I’m sure there’s some bottoming-out in there too. Mixed in with this interesting theme is a sub-plot regarding Rose’s difficult daughter Flora and her troubles, and a bit of slightly wistful religious thinking and philosophising, to which some reviewers have taken exception; I found it fitted in with the style and period of the book and was not bothered by it. The best parts for me were the delicately drawn relationship between Rose and her reticent husband, Stuart, and Rose and her best friend, Linda. Interesting for its portrayal of lives under the strain of war, and a good balance of pathos, story and humour.
Note: Ali herself read this in September 2013 – read her review here