Friday, 2 August 2013
What an inspired choice of cover (I don't recognise the artist) but this is exactly how I imagine Miss Mole. My copy, unfortunately, is a faded 1930s hardback that I picked up for £1 and has been lying around for ages ... if only I'd known what a treasure was languishing down the side of the sofa. (It won the James Tait Black memorial prize in 1930.)
Miss Mole is a Miss Pettigrew crossed with Mary Poppins but with a 'past' that she acquired by loving not wisely, but too well, in the aftermath of WWI. She is almost 40, wears unfortunate clothes but good shoes and dreads a future of poverty-stricken spinsterhood with optimism and courage. After losing her job as a lady's companion, she becomes housekeeper to a pompous Nonconformist minister and his dysfunctional family. You'll have to plod through a few longueurs - my red pencil would have chopped 50 pages or so - but it's worth it for the wonderful character of Miss Hannah Mole and her sharp tongue. This is a Spinster Lit classic and Miss Mole is a role model for anybody who has ever lunched off the cheapest currant bun in the teashop. (The equivalent these days is probably a miserable egg sandwich from M&S.)
I've been reading it through some of the hottest, stickiest, sleepless nights of the heatwave but this is a book for autumn, full of mists and dahlias and Michaelmas daisies ... not that I'm wishing the summer away, but I'm wilting.
Does anybody recall this rather wonderful sounding BBC adaptation from 1980? I don't remember it at all.