NIGHTINGALE WOOD - Stella Gibbons
I loved the book (and movie) COLD, COMFORT FARM, a hilarious story of English eccentrics in 1he 1930s, but didn't realize Gibbons wrote other books. I was delighted then to discover this one, and titles of several others which I'm hoping to find. This novel set in 1936 is both satire and heart-warming fairy tale, albeit with an occasional reference to the world outside the charmed setting of the novel, "a world toppling with monster guns and violent death." The author sees with a straightforward eye the flaws and foibles of her characters making us smile at their pretensions, while still not entirely disliking them, and sometimes becoming quite fond of them.The Withers family live in a house, The Eagles, filled with good-quality furniture bought fifty years before and never scuffed or scratched. Mr. Withers' pleasure is counting his money and requiring his family to be entirely respectable to the point of terminal dullness. Then his son's widow, a young, dreamy twenty-one-year-old comes to live at The Eagles. Within a year the world of the Withers is in bloom.
Gibbons has a wonderfully light and elegant style infused with humor. In the dark days of 1938 when it was published, the book must have provided a welcome escape from the reality of "the monster guns and violent death" confronting her readers. It provides that same escape for us.