And our Retro Classic November Book of the Month is...MRS TIM OF THE REGIMENT by D. E Stevenson (discussion Mon 7 December)(97 Posts)
MR TIM OF THE REGIMENT has squeezed ahead to win our November Book of the Month poll, beating HENRIETTA?S WAR by just one vote.
We'll be chatting about MR TIM OF THE REGIMENT on MONDAY 7 DECEMBER from 8pm to 9.30pm. Hope you can join us!
Don't forget you can order your copy here
And, for anyone who missed out on the vote here were November's book choices and this is how Book Club works.
Have ordered my copy, can't wait to read it
Have just ordered my copy!!! My first book being part of the book club!!!
Has anybody started reading their copies yet? Im a bit gutted as Im finding it really hard to want to read it if that makes sense... Maybe it's because it's so not like the books I would normally read...
Hi,I think I joined under my previous name of floaty but have now changed to Bourboncreme!Have just ordered copy from Amazon but they say it won't be delivered until after Xmas !Has anyoine ordered from elsewhere
I ordered from Amazon.....
Have you tried Waterstones online... They are usually really good...
Thanks,well actually got it in our local independent bookshop,looking forward to starting it tonight
Just in case anyone else is having trouble getting it, I managed to get my copy from Waterstones this afternoon.
I had trouble getting it from Amazon, I got mine from BookDepository.co.uk - came in 2 days
To lend this month's bookclub a festive air, we're going to play Father Christmas: there are 3 x sets of all six Bloomsbury Group classics, complete with matching bookmarks and cards, that will go to the three lucky names pulled out of a hat on the discussion night.
Everyone who comes along on Monday 7 December for the chat will be in with a chance to win this rather deluxe gift (worth over £50). We'll announce the three winning names at the end of the evening.
Here's a nice pic of them all in a row, to give you a taster... (and you can buy books direct from that site too, in case anyone's still searching for a copy)
Good news for all of you who are having trouble finding a copy of Mrs Tim!
We've been talking to Bloomsbury about this and they've told us they have about 20 copies in house that they can send out by first-class post to Book Club MNers for £6.99(p&p free).
All you need to do is call 020 7494 2111, ask for the Sales Department and place your order. Hurrah!
I haven't heard of this book before and it isnt the sort of book that I would normally read, but as it is recommended I'm more than happy to give it a go. I hope to be pleasantly surprised!
Don't forget we'll be chatting about MRS TIM on Monday 7 December, not the usual Tuesday. Anytime from 8 and we'll probably wrap up at 9.30. See you then...
Ive got my copy from the library, well I have to ...I work there.
Ive started the book, doing OK so far although the humour sometimes escapes me, Im just picking up on all her problems...maybe a personal reflection at the moment.
I DO wish I have maids etc and didnt have to go out to work, what a life!
Another reminder that we're discussing Mrs Tim tomorrow night. Personally, I took a while to get into it but then really got into it and looked forward to tube journeys etc so I could keep reading. (Oi Yoohoo, HelenMumsnet, have you finished with my copy yet?)
And a reminder that Bloomsbury are so chuffed we chose a book from this series that they've put up three complete sets, plus assorted goodies, for us to give away to people who take part in the discussion.
See you tomorrow
I've reserved the book from the library but it's from the reserve and I haven't heard anything yet. And I don't know if I will get to join in the discussion between 8 and 9.30, the baby might not allow me!
Just another quick reminder that everyone who comes tonight could be one of three lucky winners of a full set of Bloomsbury Classics, so don't forget to login anytime from 8pm...
elkiedee, so sorry your library didn't manage to get you a copy. Our next Book of the Month selection will go up in early Jan, hope you can join us for that one instead.
See y'all later...
Im going to come clean straightaway: this is the first book weve done in two years of Mumsnet bookclub that I havent really got on with. I found it very sticky going. I can only blame myself because I chose the Bloomsbury Group as our selection, but this one wasnt as lively as the others Id picked up. I felt disengaged.
I came to the conclusion that if this had been less of a disguised autobiography and given a stronger plot, I might have enjoyed it more. It could almost have been a sort of post-marriage I Capture the Castle. But it never quite took that leap of imagination.
It might also be because the fictional/confessional diary format has been done to death over the 90s/00s, starting with Bridget Jones and creeping into every corner of newspapers, books, blogs. So I feel tired when I see it. But back when Mrs Tim was published, it must have felt very fresh.
The period details were fun: her Woolworths Oriental Pearl earrings, red flannel nightdresses, calling people you limmer!. And I liked the frisson between Hester and Tony (or maybe that's the wrong word, as it seemed to be all on his side)
What did everyone else make of it? What were the best bits? Do you think it was worth bringing it back into print?
Well I enjoyed it, but agree the format seemed a bit tired, even tho it must have been cutting-edge way back when. My DD is a Hester, so I think that helped me relate to a character that I perhaps wouldn't have warmed to especially otherwise
This my first time so please be gentle with me..
I was really excited about the book club but found this book a little disappointing.. I had to sort of force myself to read it.. It wasn't the type of book that I couldn't put down.
Having said that it was a "nice" book. I suspose I mean that it was a pleasant read but there was no major story line or a strong plot to keep me riveted... I would be really interested to know what others thought though??
Tilly - I agree the one plot line that I did enjoy was the obvious lust Tony has for Hester .
I too didn't think I would enjoy it, not being particularly interested in the Army, but I was quite quckly drawn in and it did become a page turner for me. There were one or two somewhat tedious passages to do with the McQuill's which I skipped but ont he whole thought it had a lot going for it.
I know what you mean Tilly. There were lots of episodes that I was rather cringing at - what was the bit behind the curtain in the mess?!
I also got very BORED in the whole Scottish section <and must confess to skipping a few pages when there was verse listed>
I'm a forces brat so could definitely empathise with Hester on that. Now I'm a mum myself I really marvel at what my mother managed to do by herself with so little real resources - certainly my mother didn't have a cook to appease or a "girl" to find.
Oh it's so nice to be able to join in for once: Mondays are good for me!
I found this book quite fluffy. I was kind of waiting for something big to happen and it never really did. It was an interesting snapshot into a particular period of time, however, and some of the endless domestic stuff Hester had to do felt like my endless domestic stuff, even though the actual tasks were quite different! It resonated when she got to go on holiday for a fortnight and was able to take a break from it all.
I liked the talkative woman on holiday. She made me laugh. I loved the ins and outs of what should and should not be said in polite company. It was a bit of effort to finish the book, however, and I think that if it had not been part of the bookclub, I probably wouldn't have bothered!
It's my first proper book club too where I bought the book and everything!
Did anyone else find the mixture of writing style rather jarring/grating?
Maybe it's what Tilly was saying that we're a bit sick of the Bridget Jones style thing but I found it rather ODD to go from diary-style shorthand to full on conversations and long lists of verses
Lalaa - I agree that the book was quite fluffy... Maybe it's because it is so different from the books I would normally read that I found it so hard going.
I think if I hadn't been reading it as part of the bookclub I may well have given up half way through..
I found myself waiting for the story to really start... But it never really got going.
Took me a while to get into it too, but, like Gerry, once I got past the first 50 or so pages i started looking forward to reading it - you knew nothing horrid or shocking was going to happen and although that could make it rather dull, in the midst of a mad, packed tube journey it felt like the equivalent of having a nice lie down in a dark room. I particularly enjoyed the bits in Scotland and it made me long to be in the countryside (and have afternoon tea every day).
Agree the format felt like a spoof 30's slummy mummy at times and I kept thinking if it was a modern day book she'd probably have been drawn into some weird threesome with Tony and Guthrie, but I found the innocence quite relaxing. Enjoyed I Capture the Castle more, but felt it was on same lines.
Would quite like to read some of the others by HQ aren't allowed to win comps
PS AIBU to give it to my m-in-law for xmas even though it's preloved?? She will love it.
I thought there was an inbteresting bit about the teacher Miss McCarthy whose dread presebce jeeos the children good buit Hester wonders if this stunts the development of their own self-control so that when they emerge from her influence they are lost. Tim on the other hand takes his hat off to her if she can manage the little devils. Does Hester have a point does anyone think?
Glad i'm not the only bookclub virgin ha ha ha
I think Tilly is right re OD on Bridget Jones etc...
D.E. Stevenson is one of my favourite authors. My mum and grandma had all her books and I started reading them when I was in my early teens. Have to say though, that the Mrs Tim books (there are several) are my least favourite. I completely agree with Tilly - I find that the diary style doesn't really do it for me (though I have read other diary style books that I have enjoyed more). They are quite interesting as a social history document, but I much prefer her other books (romances, set mostly in upper-middle class society, but to my mind, saved by good characterization). My favourite is probably "Miss Buncle's Book".
There is definitely some unrequited passion from Tony (which is referred to in the other Mrs Tim books too) - but it is always made clear that Hester does not reciprocate and either isn't aware of it or chooses to ignore it (can't quite decide whether this is disingenuous or not). I like her children, but again, they get better coverage in later volumes.
That's so true about the threesome with Guthrie and Tony!
It made me rather annoyed that an otherwise clever, sharp-witted able and resourceful woman couldn't see that Tony was in love with her.
PS CarrieMumsnet Pre-loved is the new black! Squash it under a couple of heavy books so the corners aren't as dogeared
I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was struck the most by how innocent it was. Sexually absolutely nothing happens, wasn't going to happen and I wondered when we started going towards being so sexually explicit in literature.
Was it with Lady Chatterley's Lover? I remember working in a book shop in Amsterdam in the late fifties and having one copy of that book open for the customers to look at and you could literally see where the 'dirty' pages were.
I don't know whether it is because I am a bit older than the average MNter, but sex is not a must for me in a book and I found this just a nice read
Pleasant is just the word, roopoo. I think that's it's problem in a way - it isn't a thought-provoking literary read, nor a gripping commercial blockbuster.
I liked Hester, I found Tim vastly annoying. I half expected Major Morley to punch him flat on his face, hoist Hester into a fireman's lift and carry her off into the Scottish highlands for a good ravaging. I should have gone for Mills and Boon selection, obviously...
grandmabet, it was interesting, it struck a really different note to the rest of the book (which was a sort of 'Mrs Tim Does Domestos' and then Mrs Tim Goes Mildly Giddy on Holiday ).
I didn't want bouncy, indiscreet Betty to be quashed by the system (she certainly didn't seem to be).
Tilly if Major Morley had floored Tim and ravaged Hester I think I would have enjoyed the book far more than I did ha ha ha!!!
Now thats a proper plot line
that I didn't know that Mrs Tim was a part of a series..It was also irking me that it was a diary that finished, rather abruptly in JUNE.
Chickbean, I can see that her characterisation would be good. Mrs Falconer made me laugh and laugh and I also liked Miss Baker and indeed Mr Baker.
Also I really didn't like the character of Tim. I really couldn't take to him.
I agree, he really was an insufferable prig. Did anyone notice the use of the word "anent" which I had never come across before. It was fairly easy to work out what it meant, but I wonder why she used it at fairly regular intervals, given that even the dictionary describes it as archaic.
grandmabet - on children and teacher - was quite glad when daughter went to school even if head was a bit scary as noone really seemed to take much notice of her before. Felt desperately sorry for son being packed off, but always feel like that about boarding school (real life or fiction!). Don't think Tim's right in that it's all about control, but don't think Hester's right either in that discipline will leave them unable to think for themselves - don't think children are that easily cowed ....Betty certainly wasn't. Obviously ideal would be enough discipline to allow them to learn without being disrupted.... but maybe we should take this onto education thread
Agree Tim a total pain - not sure what she saw in him.
Was fascinated by set up when they went to point to point - and thought if book had stayed there longer there might have been a bit of scandal. Hilarious that married couples not given same room - thought that was just for royalty
SHe does say something about a relic of Victorianism in Tim I think, perhaps he's a little bit older than her? (was there any evidence of this, or chickbean, do you know??)
That plus the officer and a gentleman bit (plus he's horsey) is going to make a bit fusty, isn't it?
So many interesting posts.
Dutch Oma - despite my earlier trashy romance post, I don't think I need sex in a book either. But I need to feel something deeply felt. I think that emotions were too absent to make the book sing out for me. Fascinating point, about when we started to expect a certain level of sexual contact. I guess we have always had overt sexual description, from Greek myths to dirty stories in Canterbury Tales. But I agree that introducing two characters in a book, have them gently flirt, and yet have nothing at all happen is quite unusual.
Which leads me on to heartily agreeing with everyone who says they were waiting for something big to happen that never did. That was my main beef with this book.
champagne/chickbean - I think Hester is disingenuous. I think she knows that Tony is in love with her, and she is happy about it, but she won't allow herself to acknowledge it in any way.
what does it mean? (didn't look it up )
Yes, I noticed the word 'anent' and yes the book is archaic. To me that was its charm.
The other thing I picked up was that there were BUSES to places you actually wanted to go to.
I felt for the son too.. It always makes me a bit weepy when I think of boarding schools.
I very much liked Betty. Thought she was lively and very funny.
When you think about it, although old fashioned in lots of ways Hester had a heck of a lot of freedom- as a married woman to go rollicking round the countryside with not one but two single men, without anyone thinking anything of it, not sure it would happen today without eyebrows being raised. Not sure my dh would be that happy if I spent 2 weeks farming dc's out so I could bomb off in a Bentley with a dashing and doting young major (though have to say it might do us all the world of good!)
Carrie, dictionary definition is "concerning" but I was translating as "about". So yes, I suppose if the book felt archaic it fitted in well.
I didn't notice the word anent.
I did sometimes find myself a bit confused trying to work out exactly WHEN the book was set other than "interwar" But then I'm a classicist and my half-decent knowledge of history generally ends around 43AD
Gosh, do you think Hester's disingenuous, Tilly? She seems to be so madly in love with the dullard upright Tim. Rushing off to read proper letters from him and waltzing madly round the room after shying slippers at him or somesuch.
I have always enjoyed diary novels (Adrian Mole being the best example, IMO!!) but I did find the long entries and lengthy descriptions/conversations a bit tedious - the benefit of fictional diaries is that there can be shorter, more pithy entries to keep the pace interesting and readable. I haven't finished it yet and I think this may be the main reason why.
I think it's an interesting book to bring back into print now, though, because of the recent popularity of modern, fictional diaries that people have mentioned. Although there are obvious differences, for example the innocence that people have mentioned, but there are similarities, too - there are always annoying relatives that we dislike and that children want to avoid kissing!!!
Yes, I agree it did read like a spoof at times - or perhaps an MN thread entitled 'What would they post in the 30s?'. My favourite line was right near the start: "Pack the children off as soon as possible, shod with wellington boots and a large coal shovel." Quite frankly, I think that is excellent advice
GeraldineMumsnet, love the Mildly Giddy on Holiday chapter heading. I did feel very sad for Hester in the last page, when she says the Scottish holiday has been 'a change of soul.. to BE myself, not just Tim's wife and the mother of Bryan and Betty'. We've all been there, but it must have been twice as hard back then to have some grasp on independence.
I really liked the bit when Miss Baker speaks to Hester and has realised that she won't be happy with her nearly bethrothed (sorry, am rubbish with names in RL, let alone books). There seemed to be some insight here which we hadn't seen in some of the other characters. Did anyone else feel the same?
<can I interrupt this webchat to say I've just found a slug on my kitchen floor. yuck>
Did anyone else feel like they know someone like Mrs Tim? Or is she just an archetypal Thoroughly Good Sort.
<webchat?? sorry, distracted by slug>
Yes, good point about that Tilly
In fact, interesting because I grew up feeling a bit like that myself and I was born in the 70s. The military still has this effect I think. I was always aware of being not just champagne but champagne, officer's daughter and having to "behave" accordingly.
GeraldineMumsnet, love the Mildly Giddy on Holiday chapter heading. I did feel very sad for Hester in the last page, when she says the Scottish holiday has been 'a change of soul.. to BE myself, not just Tim's wife and the mother of Bryan and Betty'. We've all been there, but it must have been twice as hard back then to have some grasp on independence. Although D. E Stevenson must have had more than most, publishing 40 novels and being a million copy bestselling author.
My favourite sentence came almost at the beginning when they are hunting for Tim's pipe and find it in Hester's sewing basket."Why is it always the last place you look that you find what you are looking for?"
"That's because you stop looking once you have found it," says Bryan
Oh yes, Geraldine, I have known many such women. Back in the fifties, when they would have grown up not so long after the era of this book and before most women worked, the women were like Mrs Tim and the men like Mr Tim!
I think it is so very easy to become "just" a wife and mother so I did empathise with Hester when she managed to grab some independance.. Made me realise that although times have changed women still face the same inner struggles... Some times I can feel bogged down with the day to day life of being a mummy etc and I have to try and claw back some me time .
I can see that D.E. Stevenson could attract many of the criticisms that I have seen about Agatha Christie - she is very much writing about a particular class - even people who consider themselves poor have servants. Her characters are often engaging, but you are never going to get any searing emotion. I think they work best when she is being more humorous.
champagne - I don't think you ever find out whether Tim is older. I have wondered whether she would love him so much if her were around more!
There is a lot you don't find out:- how they met, how long they knew each other before they married, what their parents were like and whether they were still alive, how she felt about the birth of her children, such a lot goes unsaid.
chickbean - That made me laugh. totally agree that if she spent more time with Tim he would drive her crazy... I think it's sweet how much she loves him but think she must have the patience of a saint to put up with him
My favourite humourous moment was the buying a hat in town episode. I laughed and laughed when I read that Tim didn't like the hat.
I think there is some insight into Hester's past when she is reflecting after taking Betty to school ont the first day. She said that no fond but misguided parent accompanied her to her doom and how fortunate is Betty, with her modern, unselfconscious attitude to life, because she has not been kept in the dark, relegated to the nursery and told to be seen and not heard. Obviously Hester thinks she is a very moden mum.
Think Agatha Christie is a good comparison - though there was a BIT more in the way of plot!
It's a bit like Alexander McCall-Smith - gentle and soothing - but not much there - the book equivalent of vegetable soup.
Champagne laughing at the comparison to vegetable soup ha ha ha...
Lalaa - I fully expected Tim to not like the hat... The guy is an arse
Sorry, my posts gone weird there.
carrie, you have a point. the innocence is almost in her favour, although that scene where the other lady says she is pro- free love and Hester suddenly realises she is referring to her and Tony shows that it is not all going unnoticed - and doesn't Guthrie make a point that Tony is making a play for her? I did envy her a little bit, having a fortnight's gallivanting.
champagne, being a military kid, do you feel that it was an accurate portrayal of barrack life? And was it odd that no-one was talking about fighting/war?
A babbling brook type of book, but it does transport you into a very pleasant type of world.
Yes, I could def relate to that need to seen as a person in my own right, not just DS's mum, DH's wife etc. Or perhaps more accurately, to find out who I am, aside from those things.
Sometimes I felt that Hester had a much easier life than me - servants etc - but I also thought that perhaps her life was just different. In some ways, I have much more freedom. I'm really not sure about that one!
Hi everyone, sorry for joining so late!
I have to confess I'm only three quarters of the way through the book and I'm finding it heavy going, am stuck on the Scottish fishing!
I can see why it went out of print tbh, although there are moments of wittiness, it compares very badly with 'The Diary of a Provincial Lady' by E M Delafield, which I will happily deleve into time and time again.
I felt that having servants restricted her in a way as it would probably have been easier and quicker for her to do the jobs rather than deal with the bad tempered cook etc..
Roopoo - I agree with what you said about the same inner struggles. That's a good way of putting it.
Good point about the servants restricting her, too.
JoeyBettany, I agree about Diary of a PL and also feel that Barbar Pym captures the period much better.
And one last question, to everyone:
If we'd been able to get D. E Stevenson on for an author Q&A, what would you have asked her?
NoelRocks - In a way that's the only reason that I enjoyed the book as it was so pleasant that it was easy to switch off for 10 minutes here and there and just have a read without having to think about bath bedtime cooking dinner etc
The household management was just what happened though, wasn't it? And she needed to have a cook and Annie to bathe Betty etc because she had to fulfil her role as Mrs Tim and call on the other women - "admiring babies" etc (going to the children's party for e.g. which I could completely visualise)
Tilly, my father was in the navy, so I dunno about barracks but being on a "patch" of Married Quarters certainly had this kind of feel - all the women sticking together, calling round unannounced etc and yes, even the borrowing of crockery etc.
I would have asked her if she felt that although times and society have changed does she see any difference in the inner struggles faced by women then compared to women now??
(hope that makes sense)
But what would the combined power of MN have said if someone had posted in Relationships:"My husband loves me and I have two darling children, but he is such a bore and never likes anything I buy. I have been invited by a dear friend to a holiday in Scotland without my dh and this dashing colleague is making a pass at me. Should I have an affair or not?"
Sorry x post with Tilly's question.
I would have asked her if, as suspected, the characters were based on RL people was she worried about offending people.
Also did she think Hester and Tony would eventually have a flingette?
Oops forgot it was the discussion tonight. I'm only a few chapters in though.
Oh dear, I read the book 3 weeks ago and forgot the discussion was tonight, my first bookclub too
I loved the book, I found the fact that it was in diary brilliant, I usually plough through books way too quickly, and this got me to slow down a bit.
I thought all the characters were great, except Tim, I agree with you all on him, and that it was so innocent, both Hester and the period it was set in, I did imagine her having a gentle smile to herself, knowing Tony was in love with her, nice ego boost, but secure that nothing will ever happen.
I want to go slightly giddy in Scotland whilst farming the DCs out to kindly people <sulks>
i would have asked something similar to roopoo but it would have been about the practicalities of life now for women with children as compared with life then.
LOL DutchOma I think collective MN would probably say "he's an arse! You deserve some happiness with dashing fellow with fancy car!"
Ooh tricky question Tilly - I think I would ask her what keeps Tim and Hester together - there's an undercurrent of something but they seem so different with different views of duty and parenting etc.
Thanks to everyone for a very stimulating chat. I now feel I enjoyed aspects of the book more than I realised, in a veggie soup kind of fashion.
I'm going to bow out now, but GeraldineMumsnet will announce the winners of the prize draw in a moment - good luck all.
Bookclub will be on holiday over December, and back with the next selection in early January.
"Miss Buncle's Book" which I mentioned earlier is all about a woman who writes about her real-life neighbours - had never thought about it before, but perhaps her Mrs Tim characters were a bit too recognisable as RL people. Would have loved to ask her that. Also, whether she had a "Tony" in her life, or just a fantasy!
I would have asked why she chose to write this in the form of a diary and whether she felt this restricted her in any way. I find the way writers make these sorts of decisions very interesting.
Dutchoma/Champagne - I think the MNers might have been just a bit judgemental about the potential affair, TBH!! Although, I'm sure she would have told to have a word with her DH and grab some proper me-time!
Thanks Tilly and everyone else - another enjoyable chat.
Merry Christmas and God bless us, every one xx
Going to put names in a bag and drag one of DC away from telly/computer/mobile to do the draw <while worrying about slug under bowl>.
Aaarrrrggh, I guess I've missed being included in the prize draw. Have only just got downstairs from settling baby to sleep (he woke up and then I fell asleep when he did).
I'm still waiting for a copy from the library but would have liked, if I'd got the book in time, to join in tonight's bookclub discussion. (I would have also liked to enter the prize draw).
p.s. bratnav, sorry to leave just as you arrive, and please carry on everyone who wants to...
Gerry's daughter here. Just been dragged away from Life (highly educational, I might add) and these are the three names I pulled out first:
Back to the telly for me, bye
Please can you email me at email@example.com with your details, so I can arrange to get the book sets to you.
Thanks Tilly! And thanks to everyone who took part. Please come back in the new year.
And any suggestions for themes you'd like book group to do, please email us.
Thanks everyone for your company - really enjoyed it.
See you all next time
I have never won anything in my life... just nearly fell off the sofa in shock
Me too Roopoo - except, of course, the baby show I won when the other children had chickenpox (but that was a very long time ago).
My books arrived today and they are gorgeous!!! Thanks you soo much !!!
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