My Blog List

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Review - Good Evening Mrs. Craven - The Wartime Stories by Mollie Paynter Brown

This delightful book was a gift from Sakura of Chasing Bawa and this is one book I will want to go back to again. Published by the Persephone Press and something I would never have been able to get in Sri Lanka, this collection of short stories commencing with one dated 3rd September 1939 and ending with the one dated 11th June 1944, describes in intimate style the hopes, fears, aspirations and dreams of wartime Britons.

All the stories are down to earth, practical and seem to be earthed in a no nonsense practicality. There is nothing dramatic or flamboyant with any of the stories. We are dealing with an absolutely upstairs/downstairs personalities (the aristocracy and the working class) and what in my opinion is the humor for which Britishers are famous for - dry, understated and hilarious in turns.

All the women in the stories are dealing with the trauma of war - husbands going or coming, husbands not going as a result of desk jobs, the problems of finding domestic help, the rearing of children, the evacuation of children, the serious food shortages, the coupon system - all situations hitherto not faced by the average British woman and one which all of them took in their stride.

The book is fascinating reading for anyone who wants to know about the English way of life. The matter of fact way of facing adversity, the stiff upper lip, the dry humor - all things we associate with England are very apparent in these stories.

I loved the book and only hope that I will get an opportunity of reading more of the same.


  1. The book by her I am most interested in reading is her writings in the New Yorker magazine during that war. I borrowed it from a library once, but had to return it before I could finish. I'd like to buy a copy but it is very expensive. I also read part of a book she wrote on Swinburne. I think I prefer her nonfiction to her fiction.

  2. Nice review. It has the look of something I would have a hard time getting hold of too

  3. Yay! I'm so glad you enjoyed it Mystica and what a lovely review. And it was wonderful to finally meet you and chat books with you:) So sorry you were unable to travel to Mannar.

  4. This looks like a book right up my alley. Thanks for visiting my blog and letting me know about your WWI and WWII reviews. This is now on my TBR for sure!!!

  5. this sounds like a very interesting collection of short stories-I will be reading soon Elizabeth Bowen's WWII in London short stories which are really highly regarded-