by Stella Gibbons
Firstly I want to say – just look at the cover of this edition!
Light, effervescent, wonderful colour palette – would have one expecting something Woodhousian, wouldn’t one?
Which this book really isn’t, even though there are flashes of humour. What this book is is a study of the British Class System and social values at a time (late 1930s) when the world is starting to change.
The widowed (& nearly penniless)Viola feels she has no choice but to accept her starchy in-laws offer of a home. The Wither family (great choice of surname!) are frozen in their tyrannical father’s idea of time. The rest of them are miserable! Viola, young, spendthrift and none too bright, is wondering if she made a terrible mistake leaving her friend’s home in London. But then comes the Charity Ball…
I end up liking this book very much, for its wonderful social commentary in the middle. Be aware that the scene setting at the start may feel a bit tedious, but it is necessary for the events that unfold. The ending had too much telling & not enough showing for me, but what I liked was that I didn’t predict the correct ending for anyone!
I am now going to be on the hunt for Gibbons best known book, Cold Comfort Farm.