Thursday, 24 November 2011
Bex's Bookshelves: Miss Ranskill Comes Home, by Barbara Euphan Todd
I finished this a couple of days ago but have been putting off writing about it. I'm not sure whether to continue with the book reviews. Are you interested? Really?? If you are, please could you let me know. If you aren't, your silence will suffice. No need to tell me my reviews are jumped-up, pretentious and dull. I have my inner monologue to do that.
Anyway, just to give you a taste of what you could be missing.
Miss Ranskill Comes Home is good. Like other Persephone books I can see why it fell into obscurity rather than achieving the classic status of Cold Comfort Farm say. But a book doesn't have to be a classic to be an interesting and enjoyable read and all the Persephone books I have read have been both. More than that, they always have something slightly unusual about them. Miss Ranskill comes home from four years stranded on a desert island, with only Reid the Carpenter for company, to find herself utterly bewildered by wartime Britain. Her outsider's perspective on the rules and regulations of rationing and air raid drills is amusing and her attitude to social dos and don'ts challenging. She is open-minded, independent and acerbic. Part satire, part fantasy, part romantic comedy, the book is sweet and sour in just measure. It's also a reminder that it's good to get out of your bubble every now and again. Not that I'm proposing we should all go out and shipwreck ourselves on a desert island. At least not for four years.
'You don't have a long lost sister return every day!'
'On! Nona, and I've never even kissed you or said I'm glad to see you, or -' Edith stooped down, somehow kissed the damp kitten instead of her sister's face, rubbed some hairs from her mouth and said, 'There!'
'I suppose it would have been different on Tuesday,'
'Well, better because I'd have got everything prepared and -'
'And, I suppose kisses scheduled for Tuesday can't be expended on Monday.'
It was strange that values should make such a flashing change. In one world the thought of citizens wasting matches could be dementing: in another the idea of islanders feeding a flame with the price of boots could rouse rage. There was not one truth but many. Was it possible for anyone to be innocent of the death of just one man?
There's one thing you can't do, Miss Ranskill, you can't hurry comfort. You can't give happiness while a misery's still there.
Interesting fact, Barbara Euphan Todd is better known for creating Worzel Gummidge.