When turning on the news became too bad to bear–Covid, Haiti, Afghanistan, hurricane headed our way–I turned to this quiet book on a quiet topic to calm down.
Molly Clavering writes charming books. This 1953 novel is her most autobiographical of all she has written because it features a middle age writer (based on a friend of hers, Mrs. Lorimer, whom she described once as “that quiet woman”) and her best friend, also a middle age writer (based on herself, Miss Gray Douglas). The characters go about the ” happenings of everyday life…offering one another advice and support in a lively border village in England.”The story opens shortly before “The Show,” a village fair where Mr. Lorimer will exhibit his prize vegetables. Mrs. Lorimer is wrapped up in the lives of her grown children and their “entanglements,” and Miss Douglas is wrapped up in being a good friend and confidant. Clavering’s books were popular in England, where they are set, and in America , especially during the 50s and 60s. The story begins with these words, “It was generally considered that Mrs. Lorimer, that quiet woman, was not a sentimental person.”
This calm, quiet way of writing pervades throughout the novel, and no matter how exciting or alarming the happenings that occur are, they are accepted with calm and serenity. Examples: Guy, Mrs. Lorimer’s son falling for “That Smellie Girl (that is the girl’s last name) or her daughter wrecking her husband’s “other love interest,” his lovingly refurbished antique roadster on purpose–these things are accepted and “righted” with aplomb. It is a family story about family life.
When life became too much for me, I read a chapter or two of Mrs. Lorimer, and immediately felt better and was able to uphold the English tradition to “Carry on…”