Summary

For fifty years Mollie Panter-Downes' name was associated with The New Yorker, for which she wrote a regular 'Letter from London', book reviews and over thirty short stories; of the twenty-one in Good Evening, Mrs Craven, written between 1939 and 1944, only two had ever been reprinted - these very English stories have, until now, been unavailable to English readers. Exploring most aspects of English domestic life during the war, they are about separation, sewing parties, fear, evacuees sent to the country, obsession with food, the social revolutions of wartime. In the Daily Mail Angela Huth called Good Evening, Mrs Craven 'my especial find' and Ruth Gorb in the Ham & High contrasted the humour of some of the stories with the desolation of others: 'The mistress, unlike the wife, has to worry and mourn in secret for her man; a middle-aged spinster finds herself alone again when the camaraderie of the air-raids is over...'
The stories read by English actress Lucy Scott beautifully re-create this tumultuous period.
©1999 The Estate of Mollie Panter-Downes (P)2011 Persephone Books and The Story Circle Ltd
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Critic reviews

“Sated as I am with a steady stream of blokey, schmaltzy or just plain bad second world war-related audios, I can only say that this funny, intelligent, deceptively low-key collection about the Home Counties under siege is long overdue....These semi-autobiographical stories...are splendidly read by Lucy Scott.” (Sue Arnold, The Guardian)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Maureen on 15-09-11

Very enjoyable listen

I had not heard of Mollie Panter-Downes until I came across this book. For people like me who did not live through the 2nd World War it paints some wonderful pictures of life for those 'left at home'. Some of the stories are very witty and others poignant. It is well read by Lucy Scott. I certainly plan to listen to it again soon and play it to an elderly relative for whom I am sure it will bring back many memories. I have no hesitation in recommending this book.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Antje on 27-07-11

Forgotten gem recovered

One of my favourite books and beautifully read by Lucy Scott. I had to force myself to only listen to one story a day to make it last longer. Please, please, please, could you get Ms Scott to also read "Minnie's Room - The Peace Time Stories of Mollie Panter-Downes"?!

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jerri C on 22-12-11

Another Great Persephone read

Like all of the audiobooks published by Persephone, this book is very professionally done. Lucy Scott's reading of the stories reinforces the mood and feel of these stories which tell us a lot about England during WWII "on the home front" and also about how human beings interact and react. I will be keeping my eye out for more forgotten treasures from this publisher.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

2 out of 5 stars
By Ted on 28-09-14

Disappointingly one-note and mean-spirited

Mollie Panter-Downes wrote a series of "Letter[s] from London" for The New Yorker during World War II and for the next few decades. I checked out these articles recently using The New Yorker's archives. They're surprisingly unsentimental, in fact quite snarky at times -- and so are these short stories (which also appeared in that magazine). It's hard to know whether Panter-Downes was simply a bit nasty and sharp-tongued herself, or if she was just giving The New Yorker the sort of tone it preferred. Whatever the case, these rather acid little sketches are more interested in the evils of the British class system than in the war, and the enemy here is not the Germans, it's privileged upper-class country ladies who look upon Cockney evacuees as "the lower orders" even while they're opening their homes to them. Panter-Downes' attitude toward her characters (ranging from ever-so-slightly arch to mocking . . . to outright sneering) seems to apply to just about everyone -- the poor are oafish, the rich are snobs, men are either callous or effete, and Englishwomen in general are competitive, shallow, and status-obsessed -- and unfortunately Lucy Scott's reading only emphasizes the stories' mean-spiritedness. She can't resist exaggerating the condescension and hypocrisy in everyone's voice, lest some listener in the back row fail to get it. If you're put off by a narrator whose own voice suddenly and jarringly changes, when doing dialogue, into broad, unsubtle caricature, you'll like these stories as little as I did.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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