My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Based on the author's experience as the wife of an Army officer in early 20th century. She loaned her personal diary to a friend whose daughter was engaged to an officer in a Highland Regiment and was wondering what military life would be like. "There was nothing secret in my diary so I gave it to Mrs. Ford to read." When the family returned the diary to Stevenson, they told her that "we laughed until we cried" and suggested turning it into an "amusing book." After adding a few bits to "pep it up" she did, and the first of four Mrs. Tim books was published.
Like other Stevenson novels, this one shines with astute and humorous observations of daily lives that manage to be both hum-drum and chaotic. The author's love of nature is woven throughout the story, but especially shines in the last part of the story set in the Highlands. I also learned several new words:
ebullition: sudden, violent outburst
grass widow: a discarded mistress; woman with illegitimate child; a woman whose husband is away temporarily (in this case, Mrs. Tim); a woman divorced or separated
anent: concerning; about
I started marking passages of memorable quotes, but ended up with over twenty, so I'll share a couple to give the flavor of humor that I find appealing.
Personally, I am much more sorry for Herbert. (Mamie Carter is a person who sits still and smiles wistfully while everybody in the vicinity rushes around, wildly, doing her job.) Perhaps I am a trifle bitter about this, having assisted in the Carters' last move. (p. 15)You cannot beat a D.E. Stevenson novel for comfort reading. A smattering of amateur book reviewers claim that some of her books are sub-par, but I haven't encountered a tedious one yet. Goodreads lists 54 distinct works, so if there are a few duds in there somewhere, I feel that Mrs. Tim can be forgiven.
Am bitterly aware that Tim is one of those men who do not understand clothes or women, but reflect afterwards that perhaps this is just as well in some ways. Men who understand women being sometimes too understanding of women other than their wives. ( p. 57)
I reflect that neither of my companions is attending church with orthodox motives, but perhaps it is better to attend with unorthodox motives than not at all. (p. 237)
The things of Martha fall away from me, and a blessed feeling of idleness encompasses my soul. I have not got to remember anything--neither to order fish, nor to count the washing. I need not write an order for the grocer, nor hunt after Maggie to see if she has cleaned the silver and brushed the stairs. The condition of Cook's temper is of no consequence to me, there are no domestic jars to be smoothed over. No sudden appeals to my authority, requiring the wisdom of Solomon and the diplomacy of Richelieu, can disturb my peace. (p. 376)
Betty runs, and jumps, and springs into the air like a young goat. "The hills make me full of springiness," she says. "D'you think I shall find something nice to buy at the shop, Mummie? Guthrie says they have everything except what you want, but I don't know what I want so perhaps they'll have it. What do you think, Mummie?" p. 580
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