Sunday, 28 July 2013

Clover Cottage - Frances Cowen

I think it's time for a post about summer holidays and I miss being at the stage when a six-week summer holiday stretched ahead into the distance and it was a an awfully long time until September. I suppose it still is, though summer holidays lose their magic when you're still in the office.

However, a good vintage example of a summer holiday novel is Clover Cottage by Frances Cowen. My copy has plain green boards and no-one's really interested in a photo of those, especially as the corners are bumped. The Amazon listing has a Peal Press DW which doesn't really show itself to advantage. 

The book seems to have been written immediately after the Second World War as mentions of shortages of housing, wood, furniture and a general feeling of 'making do' with very little. The father's a sailor in the Merchant Navy, so away for much of the time. Mother's trying to survive in a tiny flat with a brood of children from responsible eldest daughter, a few scrappy siblings and an attention-absorbing baby. The family can't afford a longed-for summer holiday in the country and are thrilled when they inherit a country cottage from the mother's great-aunt. The country, of course, is a far better place for children to grow up. They can run wild there, just coping with petrol shortages, no car and limited public transport, but they'd get all the fresh air denied to them in a smoggy city. Friendly local farm-folk also provide a puppy and some (non-rationed) good food.    

Cowen's novel runs much in the same vein as Gwendoline Courtney's Sally's Family, though Courtney is much the better writer. Finding and refurbishing a thatched cottage is a very good story: the local craftsmen pitch in to help a village family and, even if the family don't find an attic full of antiques, they do find that doing up the house brings them together.

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