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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)
TillyBookClub Wed 11-Nov-09 10:10:41

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Roopoo Mon 07-Dec-09 20:12:53

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. blush

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Dec-09 20:13:01

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grandmabet Mon 07-Dec-09 20:13:39

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?

Roopoo Mon 07-Dec-09 20:19:58

Hiya Champagne
Glad i'm not the only bookclub virgin ha ha ha

I think Tilly is right re OD on Bridget Jones etc...

chickbean Mon 07-Dec-09 20:20:14

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.

champagnesupernova Mon 07-Dec-09 20:21:53

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 wink

DutchOma Mon 07-Dec-09 20:22:02

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

TillyBookClub Mon 07-Dec-09 20:22:03

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...

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Dec-09 20:24:43

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).

Roopoo Mon 07-Dec-09 20:24:50

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 wink

champagnesupernova Mon 07-Dec-09 20:27:28

blush 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.

Roopoo Mon 07-Dec-09 20:30:15

Also I really didn't like the character of Tim. I really couldn't take to him.

grandmabet Mon 07-Dec-09 20:34:16

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.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Dec-09 20:34:44

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 grin

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

champagnesupernova Mon 07-Dec-09 20:37:49

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?

TillyBookClub Mon 07-Dec-09 20:38:14

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.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Dec-09 20:38:46

what does it mean? (didn't look it up blush)

DutchOma Mon 07-Dec-09 20:38:48

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.

Roopoo Mon 07-Dec-09 20:39:41

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.

carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Dec-09 20:44:02

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!)

grandmabet Mon 07-Dec-09 20:45:07

Carrie, dictionary definition is "concerning" but I was translating as "about". So yes, I suppose if the book felt archaic it fitted in well.

champagnesupernova Mon 07-Dec-09 20:46:04

I didn't notice the word anent. blush
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 blushblush

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.

NoelRocks Mon 07-Dec-09 20:46:34

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 wink

TillyBookClub Mon 07-Dec-09 20:47:46

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.

lalaa Mon 07-Dec-09 20:48:45

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?

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