Mrs Tim Gets a Job by D.E. Stevenson was first published in 1947. It’s maybe not quite as funny as her earlier Mrs Tim of the Regiment but it’s still very enjoyable.
It’s at the back end of World War 2 and Tim is still based in Egypt, and it’s going to be quite some time before he eventually makes it back to Blighty. Hester is soon going to be at a loose end as their son Bryan is at boarding school and their daughter Betty is just about to go away to school too.
So when Hester’s friend Grace announces that she has found a job for Hester she’s in two minds as to whether she should accept the position or not. As a middle-class army wife she has no real experience of being a housekeeper, which is the job on offer in a Scottish Borders hotel.
After some swithering she decides to accept it, despite being warned that the lady owner of the hotel is a somewhat difficult character. After a somewhat shaky start Hester begins to enjoy herself and finds that she is valued by the locals and the hotel guests. The American guests try to talk her into going to the US to work for them, but that has no appeal for Hester. She has a conversation with one of them who tells her that: There are at least half a dozen perfectly good reasons why she wants me. Perhaps the chief reason is that I always seem happy and it would be pleasant to have me in her home.
This surprises me vastly, and I tell her so.
She asks if I am really happy, and if so, why.
Feel quite unable to answer these questions offhand.
Mrs Wilbur says thoughtfully that she has come to the conclusion that English women are happier than their American sisters, and she can’t think why, because it seems to her they have a pretty poor time of it. Is it their natures? Is it something in the air? Do I think she should take that as her jumping-off point when she gives her lecture on the Spirit of English Womanhood?
I inquire why Mrs Wilbur thinks happiness is so important.
She looks at me in amazement and says the pursuit of happiness is one of the chief aims set forth in the Declaration of Independence.
This silences me completely, but Mrs Wilbur insists that I must explain my views on the subject. She presses me so hard that at last I am forced to admit that I think the pursuit of happiness an ignoble aim and a selfish aim, and as selfish people are never happy – a foolish aim.
Mrs Wilbur exclaims. “Well fan me with a cup of broth!” and looks so shattered that I feel I ought to order a cup of broth immediately.
That made me laugh. I’m definitely going to use fan me with a cup of broth in the future. D.E. Stevenson was very definitely a Scottish author and was in fact related to Robert Louis Stevenson, so this one counts towards the Read Scotland 2015 Challenge.