The Town in Bloom by Dodie Smith

The Town in Bloom cover

The Town in Bloom by Dodie Smith is such an enjoyable read, better than I Capture the Castle in my opinion. I think lots of readers enjoy a theatrical setting, if that’s you you’ll probably like this one. It was first published in 1965.

It begins with three old friends getting together for a meal in London. They had all met up forty years previously in 1920s London where they had been involved in theatre work and they had all lived together in a club. There is a fourth friend but she hasn’t turned up.

The story quickly slips back to when they had first met. Mouse (her nickname) is a young Lancashire lass, just 18 years old who has always been star-struck. She hopes to follow in the footsteps of her great-aunt and go on the stage. Her aunt had given her an introductory letter to Rex Crossways a famous actor-manager and Mouse is determined to get a foot in the door of the theatre he heads.

She has enormous self-confidence but sadly little in the way of acting talent, she’s such a likeable person though, quite a charmer in a good way, but she ends up being a bit silly over Rex. This is I suppose a coming of age tale, Mouse certainly grows up quickly with the help of Lilian, Molly and Zelle, but she retains her youthful spirit although she realises that she has in fact become ‘elderly’ as she’s 59 at the end of the book, (that was a bit of a shocker for me – I’m surely not almost elderly?!) But crucially Mouse has plans for the future and hasn’t given up hope of having a successful career in another branch of the arts.

Smith’s descriptive writing is a delight, especially of all the clothes worn on stage and at the various social events, particularly a Suffolk village’s annual celebration.

9 thoughts on “The Town in Bloom by Dodie Smith

  1. This sounds like fun. I did like I Capture the Castle and though I can’t act my way out of a paper bag, I was in the drama club in high school and I’ve recently become enamored of Broadway/West End musicals. And I’m quite sure I would feel elderly reading that book in the book as well!

    • Karen K.
      I think you will enjoy it. I would have loved to be in a drama club but I’m sure when it came to actually acting I would have been too terrified to go on stage. The worrying thing about realising how old I am is that Granny said she only felt like 19 inside when it was her 90th birthday!

  2. After reading your post, I had a conversation with my daughter about this book since I really enjoyed I Capture the Castle, and she informed me that she already owns a copy. Definitely going on my list! Even though I don’t personally have an interest in the theater, it sounds like an interesting and different setting for a story.

    • Paula,
      The theatrical part is just background really. How lovely it must be to have a daughter who also likes books! I think you’ll enjoy this one, I just wish that Dodie Smith had written more books.

  3. How interesting! I loved the writing in I Capture the Castle, but I never warmed to the plot. I used to be mad about Noel Streatfeild’s theatre books though, so I’ll give this one a shot!

    • Niranjana,
      I suspect I was too old when I got around to reading I Capture the Castle. I haven’t read any of Noel Streatfeild’s books but I’ve just bought one called The House in Cornwall.

      • Oh, I loved Streatfeild books as a child! I liked the shoes books –Ballet Shoes, Theatre Shoes and White Boots–best. Some of the others feel abrupt and rushed, like she didn’t really bother much with a plot, or with crafting a satisfying ending. I hope you review The House in Cornwall!

        • Niranjana,
          I have seen a copy of Ballet Shoes, in fact I might have one somewhere, I’ve just remembered that I read The Children of Primrose Lane fairly recently. I’ll definitely review The House in Cornwall – sometime!

  4. Pingback: The 1965 Club | Pining for the West

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