Simon Brocken wishes it were still 1912. Manners were much more genteel back then, the younger generation (including himself) were not ‘flighty’ nor rude, and there were servants.
“What he longed to return to was an orderly world. No one, in Mr. Brocken’s opinion, had tasted the sweetness of life who had not lived before 1914. What years those were for solid comfort! What servants, what meals, what excellent claret! Simon meditated nostalgically upon this theme for some minutes; but even dearer to his recollection was the general atmosphere of order and decorum.”
In short, Simon Brocken liked his comforts. However, Simon’s world is about to be drastically changed.
Having never married (women were such a nuisance weren’t they?) he finds himself saddled with the oversight of his brother’s estate and even worse, his brother Mark’s empty-headed widow Isabel.
Isabel confesses to the oh-so-reluctant Simon that she is unable to reconcile the memory of her bad behavior from past years. She is haunted by the memory of her treatment of a distant cousin, Tilly Cuff. Although her mind tends to wander during church, Isabel does hear one line at the end of a Sunday church sermon, and she takes action. She decides it is imperative that she make reparation and gift Tilly with the estate left her by her husband Mark. Simon is extremely dismayed to find his comfortable world threatened. (In short, Simon is ‘in a pickle’; a most uncomfortable place to be!)
How Tilly Cuff comes to live with Simon, (who is temporarily rooming in Isabel’s home while his is being renovated), Isabel’s nephew Humphrey, and Isabel’s live-in help and in the process manages to turn the entire household upside down makes for a fast and entertaining read! The ending was quite a surprise, as I waited to see Tilly get her ‘comeuppance’ and certainly didn’t see the author’s resolution to the novel coming. It would appear that the ‘foolish gentlewoman’ is perhaps, not so foolish after all.
I did not realize at first that Margery Sharp was the author of the ‘Bianca the mouse’ series, the books I read in childhood. This book started a bit slow for me but after a bit it really took off and I greatly enjoyed it.