Miss Mole by E.H. Young was first published in 1930 but my copy is a 1934 re-print, at least the tenth time it had been re-printed so it was obviously a very popular book from the start.
To begin with I really disliked Miss Hannah Mole, there’s nothing attractive about her in looks or character, she seems to have a fleeting relationship with the truth and is quite happy to lie her head off if it suits her.
…Hannah was not scrupulous about the truth. She was not convinced of its positive value as human beings knew it, she considered it a limiting and embarrassing convention. The bare truth was often dull and more often awkward, while lies were a form of imagination and a protection for the privacy of her thoughts and, in a life lived in houses which were not her own and where she was never safe from intrusions.
I ended up admiring her though, she’s quick witted, humorous and kind – what more could you want in a friend?
She’s an odd looking person, almost 40 and dressed in peculiar clothes, although she never skimps on her footwear as she knows that people judge you by your shoes. She’s had a succession of jobs, mainly as companions to wealthy women, and she’s always being sacked from them as she’s not exactly dedicated to the work and she’s insolent to them, and when she gets a chance of a job as a housekeeper to a non-conformist minister whose wife has died she jumps at the opportunity to move up and look after his family and home.
For a large part of the book it’s swathed in mysteries such as – why is Hannah so poverty stricken if she has her own cottage that she’s renting out? There’s a hint of a man in the background, her sorrowful past. But in the end it all works out satisfactorily. This is the second E.H. Young book that I’ve read for the Undervalued British Women Novelists Group on Facebook.