Mrs. Tim of the Regiment by D.E. Stevenson (US) - (Canada)
The Mrs. Tim Quartet, Book 1
Pages: 331 pages
Finished: Apr. 6, 2010
First Published: 1932 (Apr. 13, 2010 US Bloomsbury Group re-issue)
Genre: fiction, epistolary, British cozy
Tim wakes up very peevish after last night's celebrations in Mess (how strange the after effects of enjoyment on the human frame!).
Acquired: Received a review copy from Bloomsbury USA.
Reason for Reading: I have been reading all the Bloomsbury Group series of books.
Summary: Mrs. Tim is the wife of Captain Tim, they have two children a boy and a girl and live with the Regiment in England. Mrs. Tim writes in her diary from the period of January to June detailing the daily life she lives paying particular attention to the eccentric characters surrounding her and the humorous events that can happen in simple village life. Then Mrs. Tim's life is unsettled as the Captain is transferred to a posting in Scotland to work away from the Regiment and Mrs. Tim finds herself living within a civilian community in a new country where she must start all over again (as is the way in army life) meeting new people and learning new ways.
Comments: This book is a treasure! I've read five of the six books in this publisher's series to date and this is by far my absolute favourite! The book was written in 1932, the time period of the story is never given and it is easy to assume the book is to be read as contemporary. Mrs. Tim is a wonderful character in her early thirties, friendly, caring, happy to get into innocent mischief and wonderful at bantering between the sexes with her husband. Captain Tim, himself, doesn't play a large part in the book. He is there often enough to be a fully defined character but he's off to work each day leaving Hester time to get up to her escapades or be caught up in someone else's.
Not too far into the book the move to Scotland is made and this is where the main plot of the story takes place. Hester meets all sorts of eccentric characters who are not too keen on befriending service people. She does make great friends with her next door neighbour, an elderly lady with a lot of spunk, whom she tells of her strange encounters with the villagers. Then Hester is invited to stay with her neighbour at her cottage by the sea for a fortnight and finds they've been followed by the dashing Major Morley who delights in spending his time courting Mrs. Tim. She takes this in her stride but when her friend's Navy son also visits and vies for her attentions the hilarity ensues but Hester will let the men make fools of themselves charmingly a they know she is a devoted wife.
Truly wonderful writing, with real people that one can imagine. Though full of eccentricities they are not overdone and one can simply imagine people one meets in real life having a few of these foibles. D.E. Stevenson brings every single one of the people you meet on these pages come to life and love them, whether they are likable are not. Some of them are lovable because they are so unlikeable. I'd love to see this played out as one of those British television series. I'll say the first 70 pages were the slowest read for me then after that I spent a whole day and stayed up late that night until I finished the book. I love epistolary books, this one being a series of diary entries, one point being they are so fast to read. It is so easy to just keep reading one more entry until the next thing you know time has slipped away from you. Mrs. Tim of the Regiment is laugh out loud hilarious and if I had to choose one Bloomsbury Group book for you to read this would be the one. If you like British cozies, don't miss out on this book!
I am so thankful that this is the first in a quartet, hopefully Bloomsbury intend to publish the rest of the books eventually as none of the others are still in print. I'll wait a bit and see what happens before otherwise trying to hunt them down through the Inter-Library system.