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One Fine Day

4.04  ·  Rating Details  ·  251 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
It's 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 li
Paperback, 179 pages
Published June 5th 2003 by Virago (first published October 1947)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 921)
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Jan 22, 2009 Jeanette rated it it was amazing
In this beautiful and lyrically told novel Mollie Panter-Downes chronicles a day in the life of the Marshall family, a middle class family living in post World War II England.
While Britain has come out of the war victorious, life has not returned to what it once was and for most, it never will.
The change the Marshall family feels most keenly is domestic. They have been left to manage a house and garden without the servants that they once had.
"And it suddenly struck him as preposterous how depend
Sep 10, 2011 Sylvester rated it liked it
Spotted this on Overbylass' site, it sounded like my kind of book - and was. Couldn't get a more fitting title - one day in the life of Laura Marshall. Every so often I crave a book like this, quiet, where nothing much happens (except life as it really is) but where I am given moments and thoughts that rush up from the past or loom in from the future. I found the reflective description superb, and could relate to the main character in so many ways.

"All those windows, she thought in horror. For
Dec 27, 2011 Cathy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: persephone-books
One of the best short novels I have read in a long time. Exceptional writing.
Mar 25, 2015 Ruthiella rated it it was amazing
The phrase seems overused, but this is the type of book to savor while reading. It is less than 200 pages and nothing much happens, but everything is related in impeccable detail; every small moment implies a larger story. Published in 1947, it is about the transition of a certain upper middle class family from war time Britain to peace time Britain. The main focus is Laura, a wife and mother, who is at heart a dreamer, but has to cope with being a housewife, something she is ill suited to. Befo ...more
Pauline Ross
This is a book from another era, in every sense. Written in 1946, it shines a light on a different age, a brief moment of history, and quite a narrow aspect of history, at that. In the aftermath of the war, an upper-class couple in southeastern England adjusts to the reality of life without servants and wealth.

The main character, Laura, is the slightly dippy wife whose day we follow as she goes about her chores. No longer able to sit idly at home, or gad about the countryside visiting or walking
What an absolutely wonderful little book (that seems like something a character might say in One Fine Day)! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It's not the sort of book in which big things happen. There's no sense of waiting for something bad or dramatic to transpire, for some big climax. It just sort of potters along. Panter-Downes creates a palpable sense of this hot summer day in Wealding. In that sense it reminds me a bit of Ian McEwan's Atonement. Laura, who the reader follows through most of ...more
Jun 08, 2013 Vanessa rated it it was amazing
Currently my favourite book, for the sheer dizzy intensity of the summer day described. Even when I'm not reading the book, I can feel the summer heat and the sense of Laura's shocked surprise at being alive. The war is over, she has survived, and this is the summer day she never expected to see, a summer day in peacetime. This is the day she realises in mind and body that she is alive, when somehow the heat of the sun warms her senses into life. So she can see and hear the people around her wit ...more
Mar 11, 2016 Catherine rated it it was amazing
A day in the life of an upper middle class woman in summer 1947, coming to terms with the changes in British society after World War 2. I loved the way the main character's thoughts drift from the horrors of war to more trivial things like her dog going missing, or how to cope with not being able to find servants. Lots of details, not a book to be rushed.
Claire Fuller
Mar 30, 2016 Claire Fuller rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Gentle and lovely, but hasn't really stuck with me. One day just after the second world war when everything changed for the English who had once been able to afford cooks and maids. I have no idea how this cover came to be chosen...
Stephen AB
Jun 13, 2016 Stephen AB rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
9/10. Its beautifully written, with streams of consciousness flowing almost seamlessly from one person to another, but mostly seen through the eyes of a middle class house wife Laura. She is considered somewhat bohemian and eccentric by her upper middle class peers, as she is less interested in keeping up appearances, and conforming to class strictures irks her.

Written and set in an austere 1946, it captures the changes wrought by the war on society and culture - a fusty past that has almost di
Oct 25, 2010 Lydia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Oct 16, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written.
Set in a hot day in July 1946.
The war has ended and life will never be the same again for the middle classes.
Mollie has an eye for character.
This is such a wonderful book which I devoured in a day.
It has a beautiful cover on the original Virago edition which I recently bought in a charity shop.
Anastasia Hobbet
Aug 22, 2011 Anastasia Hobbet rated it it was ok
Shelves: novel
Someone said, "It's like Virginia Woolf!" and I ordered it. But no one's like Virginia Woolf. It's more like Barbara Pym, but without her wit, irony, clarity, or eye for the perfect single detail--leaving only Pym's choice of character type and setting. A very thin Pym.
Jan 04, 2013 Janis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
It was a beautifully written book...the language lyrical almost poetic...the action takes place in a single day, and most of it in the imagination of the main protagonist...highly recommended...
Sep 01, 2012 Esparkinson rated it it was amazing
Absolutely beautiful.
Jan 02, 2015 Alisha rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
A lot of people seem to like this book. But it wasn't really for me. It's a bit melancholy and contemplative as opposed to narrative, though I did like the tone closer to the end.

It more or less felt like a series of essays on postwar Britain, placed in the minds of fictional people. The author felt that journalism was her true forte, which I can understand, because this book is plotless. It is the thoughts and feelings of a British matron, with a bit from her husband and daughter, over the cou
Jun 19, 2015 Roberta rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, domestic-fiction, uk
One Fine Day racconta, attraverso gli occhi di Laura Marshall, del marito Stephen e della loro figlia Victoria, la giornata (la bella giornata del titolo) di una famiglia qualsiasi in un paesino rurale inglese, Wealding. E' il 1946 e le persone stanno cercando di tornare alla normalità. Peccato che la normalità, dopo i devastanti anni di guerra, non esista più, o per lo meno assomigli assai poco a quello che un tempo si riteneva normalità. Molte persone sono andate in guerra e non sono tornate, ...more
Julia Tracey
Hard to read this book without the song, "One FIne Day," playing in my mind. But it's really the story of one fine day, that is, no rain, beautiful weather -- and the chance for all the members of this family to reassess the way life was before the war, during the war, and since the war. It's the middle class readjustment -- no more servants. The end of a class who is idle. The husband knowing he will take the 8:47 train to London for another 20 years, or til he drops dead. The mother knowing sh ...more
Dec 04, 2011 Betty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tone poem of a summer day in 1946 in a village in England. Nothing much happens, so don't read this if you want plot. Instead, Panter-Downes gives a word painting from the perspective of a wife, her returned husband, and their young daughter. Everyone thought life would return to normal after the end of the war, but you can't roll back seven years. The big houses can't be kept up because the domestic help went off to war or to factories and never came back. Even middle class women have to do w ...more
Aug 15, 2015 Sue rated it really liked it
It's shortly after ww2 and things aren't easy for the upper middle classes what with the lack of servants and all. This is a day in the life of one of such women who makes do with a part time daily woman and a part time gardener. Well told and hugely enjoyable due to wonderful writing which flows from idea to idea, conjuring up a hot day in the South of England, with its rationing, dubious food and impact of war on the souls of the inhabitants.
David Hepworth
May 05, 2016 David Hepworth rated it liked it
I've read her short stories and New Yorker despatches before but this is the first novel of hers I've read. It's one day in the life of an English village in the days after the last war. I don't know if it entirely works but she writes like an angel.
Jun 15, 2010 Carol rated it it was amazing
WWII has ended, and in the English countryside, Laura is trying to run her deteriorating house and garden in the upper-class manner to which she and her just-returned husband had been accustomed before the war, but, she's not skilled at any of these chores, she's not well-organized, servants are no longer available. While her husband was away, she and her daughter picked up meals any old way, but now, she wants to return to candlelit dinners with a bit of old pomp. It's all too much for her, as ...more
Feb 10, 2013 Jan rated it really liked it
Excerpt from this little gem- one day in the life of Laura Marshall of the English village, Wealding. She has just gone to fetch her straying dog from a gypsy who lives up on the the hill. . . "Laura looked at him, wondering about him. For instance,how old? Difficult to tell, for he was sparely built, and this queer solitary life up here had failed to stamp him with any of the usual identification marks. He was like a letter without a postmark, no clue given as to how far or how long he had trav ...more
May 11, 2015 Jimmy rated it liked it
The book is elegantly written, but for some reason - maybe just that it is a distracting time of the year for me - I just could not pay attention to the narrative and found getting through the book a struggle. But I also think my difficulty here was with the style of the book, too. It is really a very pensive, slow-moving, reflective story. There is no plot to speak of. Reminded me somewhat of Marilynn Robinson's "Gilead." I also found that there was a lot of insider introspection which required ...more
Jul 06, 2012 Louise rated it liked it
A very gentle and poignant study of a rural English village in the months after the end of the Second World War. Set over one day and following the lives of a middle-class woman, her husband and their daughter, the novel follows their actions and thoughts as they adjust to "normal" post-war life and anticipate its challenges. It's not one of those books I couldn't put down and I read it over the course of months rather than weeks, but it's one I kept coming back to and it was easy to pick up aft ...more
Paulo Migliacci
Feb 21, 2014 Paulo Migliacci rated it really liked it
One fine book. (Too many gladioli, though.)
Aug 16, 2012 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Reading this book is like eating really good quality dark chocolate. There's not much of it, but you don't need much to get a fix because the writing is exquisite. There's not even that much of a story, but it doesn't matter a jot. You read this book for the sheer pleasure of reading the words within. It is a portrait in words of a post war family on a hot summer day. Not a word is wasted. I can't think why it took me so long to discover Mollie - she is right up my street.
Nov 02, 2015 Sally rated it it was amazing
This book is extraordinarily beautiful. Although set over the course of a day, it encompasses two world wars, the British in India, and also gives a nod to Roman Britain. It has some wonderfully wry humour, and a lot of keen social observations. Absolutely loved it.

I have one minor quibble and that has nothing to do with the writing! It's the book cover - it just doesn't fit the story, and could have been so much better.
Aug 28, 2014 Josephine rated it really liked it
Beautiful poetic writing about the emotional changes in people following WW2
Dorothy Cook
Sep 20, 2012 Dorothy Cook rated it liked it
Beautifully written, a gentle snapshot of a moment in time which would never be quite so gentle ever again. A very real feeling of a time lost and the unknown hovering. Maybe it was because it was so subtle I could put it down and pick it up without any sense of needing to turn the page to see what happened next.
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Mary Patricia "Mollie" Panter-Downes (25 August 1906—22 January 1997) was a novelist and newspaper columnist for The New Yorker. Aged sixteen, she wrote The Shoreless Sea which became a bestseller; eight editions were published in 1923 and 1924, and the book was serialised in The Daily Mirror. Her second novel The Chase was published in 1925.

After her marriage to Aubrey Robinson in 1927, the coupl
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