Wednesday, 20 August 2008

TITLE: THE GOOD PLAIN COOK AUTHOR: Bethan Roberts DATE PUBLISHED: 2008 DATE READ: August 2008 NOTES: Set in a (large) country cottage in 1936 the story tells of 19 year old Kitty joining the somewhat Bohemian household of Ellen Steinberg and her live-in lover George Crane. Each has a daughter who act like sisters and further enliven the house. Kitty is both fascinated and in awe of her employers. The story progresses slowly – this is not necessarily a criticism as life in a country house in the 1930s probably moved at a very sedate pace. The themes of country house living and master-staff relationships are somewhat well worn and this book does not add a lot. I found myself waiting (and hoping) for something cataclysmic and life-changing to erupt at any moment – but it never does. On the positive side Kitty, Ellen and the girls were all well drawn. George Crane much less so. His interest in communism was very vague (but perhaps the writer did this deliberately to reveal his shallowness?) Although the era was evoked through clothes, food and music there was very little reference to what was happening in the wider world. A communist may well have had something to say about Hitler being in power, the Spanish Civil War or the Blackshirts marching in London. Nonetheless this is a pleasant summer read.

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