It's an odd story, but it's always pleasant to read Dodie Smith.
I suppose I say fuck too much for anyone to understand my secret Dodie Smith soul, but if I could live in any kind of novel - it would be something along the lines of L.M. Montgomery or dear old Dodie. She's that secret part of me that likes to say things like, "oh darling!" or "tolerably happy" or "so fond." Reading Dodie makes my soul happy.
I think this is the book that is closest to I Capture the Castle in terms of its characters and themes.
A very good job: she is to be secretary-housekeeper at Dome House, the country home of Rupert Carrington, a successful city businessman. Her employer is rarely at home, but Jane finds herself welcomed with open arms living very comfortably in a beautiful and well-run house with her employers four charming children (who are in their teens and twenties) and two members of staff. Jane agreed: she liked the family, she had been a little in love with their father ever since he had interviewed her, and she actually had nowhere to go. Jane landed a job at the local school, Cook and Edith had many offers to choose from, as their talents were renowned, and each of the four children set out to do what they could. Precocious, stage-struck, fourteen-year-old Merry, set out for London to become an actress, but slid into a job helping with amateur dramatics at a stately home and found that the lady of the house had an unexpected plan for her. There was so much wonderful entertainment: I was amused as I watched Merry disguising herself as a grown-up to make sure that she wasnt hauled back home again; I was as puzzled as Drew by the arrangements in the household he joined; I was as thrilled as Clare when she found a library of wonderful old books; and I was delighted for Richard when it finally seemed that, just maybe, all of the pieces were falling into place. In the end it seemed that love or money could, and would, solve just about anything This is a strange, old-fashioned mixture of romance, reality, and just a little fairy dust.
It is the early 1960s and Jane Minton a thirty something single woman arrives at Dome house to begin a new job. On arrival Jane finds that Mr Carrington is absent but she is welcomed heartily by his four children all in their early twenties or teens and the two elderly sisters who work for the family. That first evening is a wonderful start for Jane, warm, well fed, settled as one of the family in front of the television she is certain that Dome house is a place shell never want to leave.
I didn't like how she resolved it all so much, however.
I really like Dodie Smith's writing and I want to like this book, so much more than I actually do.
I was instantly confused with the time period this book is meant to represent. Because despite all the things that confused and infuriated, I picked up the book fifty pages in this morning at 8.40, and kept reading until exactly two hours later when I turned the last page. It wasn't reading a classic just so I could say yes, I've read that book. This was just a book, just a story, and despite passages of bad writing, weird writing, strange characters and utter confusion, it held me and didn't let go.
It's divided into sections by characters (four siblings, and Jane, who is their sort of... Overall though it was a good book, sort of "coming of age" only most of them were adults/young adults so it was more like, going out into the world and finding themselves.
Someone like, say, Noel Streatfeild could have done a lot more with the basic idea of the book, making it much more interesting and not nearly as creepy!
It was a success, and her story from failed actress to furniture store employee to successful writer captured the imagination of the public and she was featured in papers all over the country. Although she could now afford to move to a London townhouse, she didn't get caught up in the literary scene she married a man who was a fellow employee at the furniture store.