I thoroughly enjoyed “Mrs. Tim Gets a Job”.
Hester Christie does not *want* a job. But her do-gooder friend Grace decides that with Tim away in Egypt and the children at boarding school, that her good friend Hester needs something to do. So she sets up a job at a country-estate-turned-hotel in Scotland.
“Well, anyhow,” says Grace proudly, “the long and the short of it is I’ve found you a job.”
“Yes, Hester, a job. You said you wanted a job, didn’t you? And of course I understood exactly how you felt. I mean if it weren’t for the twins, who take up all my time, and more, I should take a job myself. Now that Jack is away in Egypt life is simply too dreary – or would be, if it weren’t for the twins. They keep me cheerful, of course….”
…Grace chatters on, but I am much too preoccupied with my own thoughts to listen. ..
“I feel I’m doing the Right Thing. You want a job, so I’ve found one for you and you’ll be much happier with lots to do; the time will pass like lightning; and Erica seems only too pleased to have you, so I’ve done two people a Good Turn,” says Grace with the air of a complacent Boy Scout.
Grace is so charmed with her project that I haven’t the moral courage to tell her I have changed my mind and don’t want a job…”
But, in the end, after much upheaval and with nervous anticipation, Hester takes the job and finds herself very busy meeting and making new friends (and an enemy or two), and using her natural gifts of tact and organization to run the country inn in Scotland.
I enjoyed Erica Clutterbuck, Hester’s gruff but well-meaning employer. Tony Morley shows up again near the end of the book and Hester is very relieved and thankful to see him in person and be assured that he did indeed, survive the war. Once again, Hester finds herself a confidant in a romance-gone-awry, and she meets the “Countess of Ayre” who turns out to be someone totally contrary to her expectations…in between we enjoy scenes like Hester and her employer organizing the linen closet in the middle of the night dressed to the nines in their nightclothes, and Hester struggling to refuse the kind offer from an American woman who tries to persuade her to come to America and work for her.
Hester’s observations on the hotel guests, all written and recorded faithfully in her diary, are both entertaining and poignant to read as she reflects upon human nature and her own reactions to various personalities.
“Mrs. Wilbur says thoughtfully that she has come to the conclusion English women are happier than their American sisters and she can’t think why, because it seems to her they have a pretty poor time of it.” (note: this is post-war England; there are still ‘queues’ at the butcher’s, food shortages, and clothes ‘coupons’…) “Is it their natures? Is it something in the air? Do I think she should take that as her jumping-off point when she gives her lecture upon the Spirit of English Womanhood?
I enquire why Mrs. Wilbur thinks happiness is so important.
She looks at me in amazement and says the pursuit of happiness is one of the chief aims set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
This silences me completely, but Mrs. Wilbur insists that I must explain my views on the subject. She pressed me so hard that at last I am forced to admit that I think the pursuit of happiness an ignoble aim and a selfish aim and, as selfish people are never happy, a foolish aim…
I continue by saying that in my humble opinion happiness is a privilege, not a right. It comes, not to those who pursue it for themselves, but to those who try to give it to others.”
I read this third book in the “Mrs. Tim” series in just a couple of days!
I so wish I could read “Mrs. Tim Carries On”, the continuing story of “Mrs. Tim of the Regiment” (and it comes, chronologically, before “Mrs. Tim Gets a Job). It is set in England during World War II and sounds so interesting! Sadly, it is out of print, and not one of our thirty-member library system has a copy available. (Maybe it will be reprinted someday; I can only hope!)
This book would make a wonderful light summer read, and like most of D.E. Stevenson’s novels, comes highly recommended.