Monday, 22 July 2013
Light romantic fiction isn't my thing, but it seems so much more appealing when it was published in 1947, and you can think of it as blessed escapism for housewives putting their feet up after the war. Washed down with a cup of still-rationed tea or a swig of Sanatogen Tonic wine or whatever ladies like me resorted to before Pinot Grigio was invented.
Noel Streatfeild dismissed the novels she wrote as Susan Scarlett as romantic potboilers and she was absolutely right. This is nowhere near as good as Saplings, and isn't even so bad that it's funny like The Whicharts.
But it has all the Streatfeild ingredients. Two theatrical families and a bit more than I needed to know about sticks of greasepaint. Spoiled Dulcie getting too big for her boots as the leading lady of a summer season concert show at a Hi-de-Hi holiday camp. Cheerful younger kids who are Thoroughly Good Sorts. And Nella, whose talents as a singer and dancer are disregarded by everyone as she's too nice to Push Herself Forward.
I don't think I'd have made it through to the end but for that always seductive period detail; the families struggling to gel again now that their men have returned from POW camps; nifty-fingered mother contriving clever costumes despite problems with coupons; the holiday-makers revelling in their first week's respite since 1939 from rationing and queuing and making-do. Even the grass was springing up again after years of being stamped on by soldiers.
But put it this way ... if books were on coupons, I wouldn't be squandering mine on this.