Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd

Miss Ranskill Comes Home cover

My copy of Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd is a Persephone reprint and it was first published in 1946. I was surprised to learn that the author wrote lots of children’s books including the Worzel Gummidge books, but under the name Barbara Bowers.

I’ve had a few disappointments with Persephone books but this one was a real page turner, for me anyway.

It begins with Miss Ranskill digging a grave for her companion the Carpenter, they had both separately been washed up on a desert island and for a few years they had been living on fish and sea birds, keeping their fire going and building a boat, hoping to escape the island. Sadly the Carpenter died before they could set sail and it’s left to Miss Ranskill to cast herself off on her own.

Miraculously she is rescued by a British merchant ship, and you would think that her problems would be over, but they’re just beginning. For one thing World War 2 broke out while she was on the island and it has been going on for over three years. Miss Ranskill (Nona) finds herself in a totally alien society, she knows nothing of rationing and coupons, air-raids or black-outs. She’s so out of place at ‘home’ that people assume that she must be a spy working for the Germans.

As Miss Ranskill had fallen overboard from a liner (whilst trying to retrieve a hat she didn’t even like) she has been presumed dead and her will has been proved, everything is so different from what she had expected of her return. Nona’s sister seems hardly bothered by her return from the dead but the family dog is happy to see her. Eventually she does come up with a solution for her predicament, and at the same time helps others whose lives have been turned upside-down by war.

Nona Ranskill is a really likeable character and the book is very entertaining, it’s a real pity that this is the only book for adults that the author wrote. I’m now tempted to seek out he Worzel Gummidge books, I never read any as a child although I watched it on TV. Have you read any of the books?

The endpapers are from a cotton textured fabric which was designed for Helios by Graham Sutherland, and it’s called Sutherland Rose. I had no idea he had designed fabric, but I can’t say I’m all that struck on it.

Sutherland Rose

10 thoughts on “Miss Ranskill Comes Home by Barbara Euphan Todd

  1. This is also on the list for my next Persephone order, and I feel like I’m getting closer to that order. Have you ever seen the Cary Grant & Irene Dunne film, My Favorite Wife? It is involves a woman, presumed dead, coming back from a desert island – but with the complications of a husband and children.

    • Lisa,
      I love Cary Grant and I’m sure I saw that film way back in the year dot. I’d love to see it again sometime though. Thanks for reminding me of it. I hope you enjoy Miss Ranskill when you get around to it.

  2. I have this Persephone but I haven’t read it yet. It does sound like fun so I will have to get to it soon. And, thanks to Lisa’s comment, I am now going to have to re-watch My Favorite Wife.

    • Jennifer,
      Me too, I’m going to get the DVD. I hope you enjoy the Persephone – it’s fun in parts and definitely entertaining.

  3. I loved this one too — I want to like all the Persephones but I agree sometimes they are hit or miss. Most of the WWII books are good, and this one was especially charming and funny. I can’t remember if I’ve ever seen My Favorite Wife but I went through a period when I watched a lot of classic films, and Cary Grant is one of my favorites so I probably have. They all start to run together after awhile.

    And I am not a fan of that color combination, it reminds me of bees.

    • Karen K,
      I have a real love of books about that period, especially those written at the time. I prefer the old classic films to new ones and am very bad at recognising modern day actors. The endpapers look even worse on the book I think, so dowdy. I don’t mind bees at all, wasps are another matter – but the colour combination made me think of something much worse!

  4. I loved My Favorite Wife, but was did not care at all for the remake, with a different title, starring Rock Hudson and Doris Day. The Cary Grant version was so much splendid fun. (Oh, he makes any film fun!)
    This novel sounds so totally original and different that I’d like to read it. I guess I’m not aware of the Persephone titles. But I’m sure I can hunt it up somewhere.

    • Judith,
      I was lucky and found this one really cheap in a secondhand bookshop, I think Persephones are rather overpriced at £14 for what is after all a paperback. Maybe you’ll be able to find an old one somewhere. I was never that keen on Rock Hudson or Doris Day so I would have avoided that remake anyway!

      • Doris Day’s very early films in the late 1940s and very early 1950s were okay, when she was young enough to play daughter roles in period pieces dating back to the early 1900s. But Rock Hudson never did a thing for me. Not at all appealing in any way!!

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