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One Fine Day (1947)

von Mollie Panter-Downes

MitgliederRezensionenBeliebtheitDurchschnittliche BewertungDiskussionen
3151465,001 (4.31)102
It is a summer's day in 1946. The English village of Wealding is no longer troubled by distant sirens, yet the rustling coils of barbed wire are a reminder that something, some quality of life, has evaporated. Together again after years of separation, Laura and Stephen Marshall and their daughter Victoria are forced to manage without 'those anonymous caps and aprons who lived out of sight and pulled the strings'. Their rambling garden refuses to be tamed, the house seems perceptibly to crumble. But alone on a hillside, as evening falls, Laura comes to see what it would have meant if the war had been lost, and looks to the future with a new hope and optimism. First published in 1947, this subtle, finely wrought novel presents a memorable portrait of the aftermath of war, its effect upon a marriage, charting, too, a gradual but significant change in the nature of English middle-class life.… (mehr)
  1. 00
    Zwischen den Akten von Virginia Woolf (shaunie)
    shaunie: Both have a quintessentially early 20th century English setting and both take place over the course of one day.
  2. 00
    Mrs Dalloway von Virginia Woolf (shaunie)
    shaunie: The subject matter is quite different but the writing style is similar, it's a shame One Fine Day is much less well known.
  3. 00
    Lolly Willowes oder der liebevolle Jägersmann von Sylvia Townsend Warner (GeraniumCat)
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“We are at peace, we will stand, we will stand when you are dust, sang the humming land in the summer evening.”

Although essentially plotless, this short novel, which unfolds on an English summer day a year after the end of World War II, is rich and satisfying, with sympathetic, well-drawn characters and fine prose, full of sharp observations. It revolves around the Marshall family—thirty-eight-year-old Laura, her husband Stephen, and their ten-year-old daughter, Victoria—who live in Wealding, a pleasant village in the commuter belt around London. The book opens at breakfast with the irascible Stephen assigning tasks to his dreamy wife before he leaves for work. Perhaps the biggest problem the once-comfortable Marshalls face is the maintenance of their large house and garden. All the young people have left domestic service for manufacturing jobs and other opportunities in the city. Weeds threaten to overtake the flower beds outside the house, and Laura, an indifferent cook and housekeeper, cannot keep order within. Even with the help of the hefty village busybody, Mrs. Prout, Laura is exhausted much of the time. The dust and spiderwebs collect, the walls look increasingly dingy, and the upholstered furniture is more threadbare and shabby than ever.

Among the tasks Stephen assigns Laura is visiting the Porters, a family that lives in a cramped hovel and breeds like rabbits. Perhaps young George Porter might be interested in employment in the Marshalls’ garden a few evenings a week. There’s also the shopping to do, some cleaning with Mrs. Prout, and the retrieval of the family dog, Stuffy, who’s likely run off to Barrow Down. A gypsy with many dogs of his own lives there in an old railway car, and it’s almost guaranteed that Stuffy will be brought home pregnant yet again.

Although there are chapters dedicated to Victoria, Stephen, and Mrs. Prout, the novel mostly follows Laura as she goes about her day. She reflects on her easeful upbringing as the child of the Herriots, staunch upholders of the British Empire in India; her choosing to marry Stephen, a businessman, rather than the more privileged well-to-do suitor her mother had selected for her; her wartime experiences alone in the house with Victoria, enlivened by the long stays of Laura’s women friends and their children who fled bombarded London for the safety of the English countryside. Mostly, though, Laura thinks about how so much has irrevocably changed since the war. She is aware of her luck in having a husband come home, when so many men did not. Other acquaintances, including a former cook, were lost in the Blitz. Canadian soldiers stationed near Wealding in wartime have left lasting reminders of their sojourn: numbers of fatherless youngsters toddling about. The landed gentry are selling up and relocating. The Cranmers, for example, who’ve lived on a beautiful estate for centuries, have accepted an offer from the National Trust. The manor house is to be used partly as a holiday hostel and partly as an agricultural training centre for boys, while old Mrs. Cranmer and her addled sister-in-law, Aunt Sophia, will be relegated to a small apartment in a made-over wing of the stables. “It’s the only possible thing for all these places,” says Edward, the only surviving Cranmer son. “I couldn’t afford to live here even if I wanted to. [ . . . ] Perhaps we’ve been here long enough. [ . . .] It’s time for a change. And look at it as it is, rotting away! That is what really broke one’s heart.”

In some ways, Panter-Downes’s novel reminds me of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Both books feature a post-war setting, impressionistic prose, and a sensitive female protagonist through whose consciousness a much-altered world is filtered. Woolf’s writing is, of course, more sophisticated—more experimental and more purely stream-of-consciousness in mode—and the inclusion of the shell-shocked soldier, Septimus Warren Smith, makes hers the more melancholy novel. One Fine Day has a lighter touch and a more buoyant tone. It focuses on a fairly conventional marriage and cast of characters, in a rural rather than urban setting, but it contains lovely lyrical writing about the natural world and some sensitive observations about change, marriage, ageing, and the endurance of the land. I really enjoyed the book. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Dec 10, 2020 |
"One Fine Day" is beautifully constructed and written and I regard it as a perfect marvel. ( )
  Picola43 | Jan 18, 2018 |
This was the first book by this author that I really had difficulty getting through. Despite being beautiful and intriguing on a psychological and sociological level, it felt rather dull to me most of the time. It isn't really my kind of book at all, I'm afraid. I'm not sorry I read it, but would not wish to read it again or recommend it to anyone with a brief attention span. ( )
  lydiasbooks | Jan 17, 2018 |
This novel is like a snapshot of a single day in the life of a British family in the aftermath of World War II. It follows Laura, Stephen, and their daughter Victoria through a hot, sunny July day in July 1946. Laura does the household chores that she had to learn to do by herself but never really mastered during the war. Stephen commutes to his office in London, and frets over the overgrown garden that he is not able to take care of adequately. Victoria is growing up as children do, heading for a future in this new post-war world. That's about it. They move through a typical day with no particular action or great drama.

The theme of change and adaptation is rooted in the history and permanence of the English countryside. The characters are faced with the social upheaval brought about by the war. The middle and upper classes were left to cope with their crumbling homes and lifestyles after the servants left during the war. The people who would have done the work have discovered new opportunities and freedoms beyond the confines of their former roles. We get a glimpse of the difficulties encountered by soldiers returning to families and homes that have evolved without them, and the families who likewise had to adjust to fit the men and their expectations back into their lives.

The writing is beautiful, with wonderful descriptions of the countryside and people of the village. Laura is a lighthearted and sympathetic character. While there is a sense of melancholy for what has been lost for some, there is also optimism for the future. Despite the lack of action, the book is enthralling, with a strong sense of time and space. For the modern reader, it casts a spotlight on a moment in the past. I wonder what it was like for the original readers back when the book was serialized and published in 1946-47. ( )
  SylviaC | Nov 4, 2017 |
Set in 1946, the story follows Laura Marshall through one day of her life, a life that has been forever changed by war. The social structure has changed dramatically, one-time servants have moved on to more lucrative employment elsewhere leaving owners of grand homes having to look after themselves. Laura will adjust, although her mother and her husband may have some difficulties. Panter-Downes describes a new order that has been accepted, however reluctantly, and the future is looking generally optimistic. This memorable portrayal of an ordinary day evokes the time faultlessly. ( )
2 abstimmen VivienneR | Oct 2, 2017 |
This is a completely enchanting account of the day's events in the life of Laura Marshall who lives on the South Downs in post-war England. Through flashbacks and reflection, it tells of her relations with her husband Stephen and their young daughter Victoria. As Laura tackles the household chores, the trip to the village, the marketing, the garden, she is filled with the wonderful calm and tranquility of peace in contrast to the hell of the war years - despite the dreary shortages and frustrations. Outstandingly well-written, this has all the delicate flavor, haunting atmosphere, and warmth of Rumer Godden's The River and is also reminiscent of Mrs. Miniver.
hinzugefügt von KMRoy | bearbeitenWings - The Literary Guild Review (Nov 1, 1947)
 

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'True is it that we have seen better days'

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The day promised to be hot.
In 1946, when One Fine Day was written, England was beginning to look to the future after the Second World War. (Introduction)
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It is a summer's day in 1946. The English village of Wealding is no longer troubled by distant sirens, yet the rustling coils of barbed wire are a reminder that something, some quality of life, has evaporated. Together again after years of separation, Laura and Stephen Marshall and their daughter Victoria are forced to manage without 'those anonymous caps and aprons who lived out of sight and pulled the strings'. Their rambling garden refuses to be tamed, the house seems perceptibly to crumble. But alone on a hillside, as evening falls, Laura comes to see what it would have meant if the war had been lost, and looks to the future with a new hope and optimism. First published in 1947, this subtle, finely wrought novel presents a memorable portrait of the aftermath of war, its effect upon a marriage, charting, too, a gradual but significant change in the nature of English middle-class life.

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813 — Literature English (North America) American fiction

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