Ordinarily I only ever read this book when I have just finished I Capture the Castle and I need my Dodie Smith fix to continue. It’s really not the most fantastic book you’ve ever seen, but it’s rather charming. I am susceptible to its charms even when I know the entire book is totally far-fetched and these things would never ever happen.
The book is about the Carrington family, whose father goes on the run for vague and unspecified money-type crimes, just after he has engaged a secretary/housekeeper type, Jane Minton, who plans like Thoroughly Modern Millie to marry her boss. There are four children and not much money, and one after another they all go off to seek their fortunes. Precocious fourteen-year-old Merry, intending to go on the London stage, ends up hanging out at the home of some minor nobility and becoming involved in a totally absurd romantic situation; innocent twenty-something (22 maybe?) Drew becomes an old lady’s companion and finds he is after all capable of disliking people; Clare, who dreams of being a king’s mistress, gets a job reading to an old man (seriously, I want that job) who actually was an ex-king; and poor Richard has to stay home and take care of everything at home.
The author’s not attempting realism here, but the book is fun and amusing. I like Clare’s story the best, probably because – as I say – I would really like to have a job reading to an old man, particularly if, as here, it came with room and board. I am fantastically good at reading out loud. The rich old people of the world should be so lucky as to have me to read to them.
Er, anyway. If a perfect lack of plausibility doesn’t bother you, and you like those sort of previously-privileged-kids-go-off-to-have-adventures books, read this! It will make you smile.