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Miss Ranskill Comes Home

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating Details ·  260 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Tells the tale of a woman who goes on a cruise and is swept overboard. She lives for three years on a desert island before being rescued by a destroyer in 1943. When she returns to England it seems to her to have gone mad: she cannot buy clothes without 'coupons', and she is considered uncivilised if she walks barefoot or is late for meals.
Paperback, Persephone Book #46, 330 pages
Published November 6th 2003 by Persephone (first published 1946)
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Published in 1946, under her married name, Barbara Bower.

Description: Tells the tale of a woman who goes on a cruise and is swept overboard. She lives for three years on a desert island before being rescued by a destroyer in 1943. When she returns to England it seems to her to have gone mad: she cannot buy clothes without 'coupons', and she is considered uncivilised if she walks barefoot or is late for meals.

Oct 14, 2010 Margaret rated it really liked it
Barbara Euphan Todd is well-known for her series of children's books about Worzel Gummidge, a talking scarecrow (I've never read any, but I'd heard of them), but much less known for Miss Ranskill Comes Home, her only adult novel, which I read in a lovely Persephone edition.

The book opens with a shock: Miss Ranskill, marooned on a desert island for years with only the Carpenter for company (the man, also marooned, already on the island when she washed ashore), now must bury her only friend, who
Lady Shockley
Jun 05, 2016 Lady Shockley rated it it was amazing
Miss Ranskill Comes Home is the story of Nona Ranskill, younger sister of Edith, who is swept overboard on an ocean cruise shortly before the outbreak of WW2. She washes up on a desert island, already inhabited by another castaway, the Carpenter, and together they survive (platonically) on the island for four years, keeping each other's spirits up and arduously building a boat using a jackknife, rocks, shells, boiling water, and carved pegs to hold the timbers together, in order that they may ha ...more
Jun 07, 2016 Sylvester rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, war, odd, 2016
I think this book should be getting more attention. Whatever department head assigns books to be classics has been asleep on the job. Although it seems like a humorous and ironical little story, its just prickling with barbs against society and the status quo - valid contentions, too. I have to say, Miss Ranskill's reaction to much of the British home-front attitude toward WW2 was exactly opposite to anything else I've ever read or understood. I had to laugh, it was so contrary and, well, true. ...more
Jun 03, 2014 Lori rated it really liked it
This was not what I expected, it was better. When I first opened this book I thought I would be reading a variation on the movie My Favorite Wife with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne, a silly screwball kind of thing. The only similarity between this book and that movie is the return of a woman who has been missing for several years and presumed dead. In fact, Miss Ranskill was swept overboard while on a pleasure cruise. She washes up on an island where another castaway has been surviving, the Carpent ...more
Jan 21, 2008 Ali rated it it was amazing
loved this satirical book, Barbara Euphon Todd uses the story of middle aged woman arriving back to a Britain at war, after almost four years on a desert island - to take a wry look at wartime regulations,and the English class system. Those men and particularly women who seemed to roll up their sleeves rather gleefully during the war years and who saw it as their personal mission to ensure all the new rules and regulations were adhered to. Ration books, coupons, black out, air raids, the all cl ...more
Dec 27, 2013 Elinor rated it it was amazing
Shelves: women-in-wartime
I had this book on my list of wartime reading for some time, hesitating only because the average rating is 3.88. Well, it is a good lesson for me not to place my faith too heavily on the opinions of others, because I thought this book was delightful and was sorry to see it end. Miss Ranskill is an old maid, plain and simple, but with hidden depths of character. And she actually DOES something at the end rather than thinking about it. The relationship between her and The Carpenter, who dies befor ...more
Jun 21, 2010 Helen rated it it was amazing
Shortly before the start of World War II, Nona Ranskill was swept overboard whilst on a cruise and was washed up on a desert island. The only other inhabitant of the island is a man known as 'the Carpenter', who had also fallen overboard on an earlier occasion. At the beginning of the book, the Carpenter has died and we first meet Miss Ranskill as she's digging his grave. After burying the Carpenter, Miss Ranskill makes an attempt to escape from the island - and luckily she is rescued by the Bri ...more
Apr 21, 2012 Rosemary rated it really liked it
Shelves: persephone
Forty-year-old Englishwoman Nona Ranskill was washed up on a desert island just before the outbreak of World War II. She returns to England four years later, haunted by memories of the man who platonically shared the island with her and completely unprepared for the bombs, rationing and disruption that she finds in England.

This is a strange and haunting book. I loved the premise and the characters but sometimes I was suprised by what the author chose to tell or not tell. It felt a little disjoin
Funny, sad and ironic. Might just be my favorite Persephone re-print yet.
Apr 12, 2016 Kavan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Miss Ranskill Comes Home begins interestingly enough with the lead character, Nona Ranskill burying the body of the only other occupant of a desert island, and then using his boat to escape. Now if this book was written today it would most likely be a murder mystery, a whodunit where we spent the entire novel waiting to see how and why the lead character did what she did. Much to my surprise and pleasure that was not remotely the story author Barbara Euphan Todd had in mind.

Instead this is a no
Aug 26, 2013 Pascale rated it it was ok
Not the most convincing title in Persephone's wonderful catalogue. The author's take on daily life in WWII England is interesting and she does a fine job of skewering the self-righteous matrons who have a ball applying emergency regulations to the letter while being vicious to evacuees and especially Jews. However, her satire is a bit too broad and relentless to be effective. Similarly, the sentimental plot (Miss Ranskill's unconsummated love-affair with a lower-class man, and her subsequent res ...more
May 09, 2015 Hilary rated it it was amazing
I loved the beginning of this book where Miss Ranskill describes life with the carpenter on the island. I loved the description of how they would take each other to the movies by describing scenes to each other and what they would do when they were home. I would have really enjoyed more about their island life. I found the confusion of the return went on slightly but I think the way Miss Ranskill changed and the way she had different values after her experience was well thought out. The end was ...more
Jun 12, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
A clever satire from the author of the Worzel Gummidge children's books that I used to love so much. Barbara Euphan Todd gives a very original, comical view of society during WWII, with all those "do-gooders". It is, in fact, a story with more depth than it seems at first; a study of wartime relationships, regulations and the class system, related with great wit. What a shame she only wrote one novel for adults.
Jul 28, 2015 Claude rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical-fiction, e, wwii, uk
Very well written, but I never really got involved. I felt like I was being taught a lesson, which was obviously the case, but I found it sort of heavy instead of satirical.
I ended up not liking Miss Ranskill at all, and feeling like I just wanted to see the end. Maybe I was not in the right mood.
Mar 18, 2017 Judy rated it it was amazing
What a book! Well-written and somewhat topsy turvy at the beginning, as you struggle to get your bearings. I won't explain it because it's best experienced for yourself, but it is at once poignant, lyrical, hard-boiled, and satirical. I didn't realize until I had finished it that it was written in 1946, and has recently been re-released by Persephone books, which is dedicated to resurrecting fiction by women.

From a longer piece on Goodreads: In 1946, after the death of her husband in World War
Dec 12, 2013 Toast rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
What a gem! A brilliant book about being the complete outsider, the alien in your own home. Miss Ranskill fell of a cruise ship before the war and survived on a desert island with an elderly ships carpenter. Sadly, he dies after finishing making a small boat to escape with. MR duly tries and is saved by the British navy, as you would be. She is the only woman abroad, poorly etc so the officers, trying to spare her feelings/nerves/etc give her only the briefest news that WW2 is now afoot. Back in ...more
Dec 06, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, persephone
This book begins with a burial and escape from a desert island. Rescued, Miss Ranskill returns changed herself to an England changed by WWII. Fantastical, often humorous, this novel is also a story about private grief at a time of national crisis. An unusual, but rewarding read with an unusual, but winning heroine.
Nov 04, 2011 Nancy rated it really liked it
Shelves: oldies
This is one of those wonderful old books that I love. It was quite different than I expected, but much better and deeper. Wonderful insight into World War II England and the people and how they responded to privation. Very touching story of Miss Ranskill learning to cope with her new world (life after desert island) and past grief (loss of the Carpenter).
Lauren Stringer
Jul 06, 2013 Lauren Stringer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013-books
I would re-read this book in a second. I had thought it would be a light read about a woman returning after four years on a desert island to her home in England during WWII-- but not at all! There is humor, but also poignancy and yearning and the weighing of what is most important in life. I loved the writing and would like to read all of Barbara Euphan Todd's books!
Gina Boyd
Aug 05, 2016 Gina Boyd rated it really liked it
I wrote a review of this and Goodreads ate it, so I'll just note that I really enjoyed reading about the scappy Miss Ransome and her Robin Crusoe, Fish Out of Water, WWII England, Building Her Own Life story.
Mar 19, 2008 Susann rated it it was amazing
Shelves: persephone
A favorite Persephone book. A British woman falls off a ship in 1939 and washes up on a desert island. She isn't rescued until 1943, when she returns to a completely different, wartime England. It's a satire of wartime society, but it runs deeper than that. Miss Ranskill is quite a woman.
Feb 08, 2017 Trisha rated it it was ok
Although this is an “especial favourite” of readers who shop at Persephone Books, it wasn’t one of mine even though it was set during WWII in England –one of my “especial favourite” times to read about.

I could never figure out if it was intended to be an allegory, a satire, a fantasy, a spiritual tale, or if it simply required the reader to be willing to set aside what was implausible and a little too far-fetched in order to pick up on what Barbara Euphan Todd was saying about the hardships and
Dec 30, 2016 Genevieve rated it really liked it
After not being able to concentrate (for a few months) enough to finish a book, it was a wild pleasure to eat this book up in a couple of days. It is a bit of a fairy tale in some ways, and the main character walks into the war having no clue about it, and recognizes some of the more ridiculous elements of everything (and war is a ridiculous thing when looked at from a detached manner) and tries to make sense of it and existence after life on the island. Everyone else looks upon her as eccentric ...more
Mar 16, 2016 Lemonpop rated it really liked it
Shelves: fav-of-2016
This was a great book. The story is a bit of Robinson Crusoe and Alice and Wonderland. For image being on a desert island for four years and then get home in the middle of World War II. Now that a trip.

This book covers a lot of issue that author wanted to address. From social class, to things she felt were silly or self-aggrandizing of people.

The story starts out with Miss Ranskill bury Carpenter. So lucky enough she had a companion on the island with her. But she keeps her station and his stat
Jun 06, 2009 Gill rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009, month-06
This 1946 novel is about a woman who goes on a cruise and is swept overboard; she lives for three years on a desert island before being rescued by a destroyer in 1943. When she returns to England it seems to her to have gone mad: she cannot buy clothes without 'coupons', her friends are only interested in 'war work', and yet she is considered uncivilised if she walks barefoot or is late for meals. The focus of Barbara Euphan Todd's satire is people behaving heroically and appallingly at one and ...more
Oct 26, 2012 Sara rated it it was amazing
An excellent book! This is the story of a 39-year-old British woman on holiday just before the outbreak of World War II. After falling overboard a passenger ship, she washes ashore on a small island occupied only by a kindly ship's carpenter who had arrived in similar fashion some time earlier. The book opens powerfully with Miss Ranskill burying the Carpenter's body, after having spent four years together on the island. Grieving his loss, she fulfills their plans by setting out in their painsta ...more
Jan 22, 2015 Cassandra rated it liked it
Shelves: middlebrow
This is a pleasingly odd book, which takes a conceit that upon the surface is laughable -- a woman marooned for several years on a desert island returns home to England -- and makes it into something real. There is a lot of humour in Miss Ranskill's deep confusion about British life during WW2, some of which worked for me, some of which I found too broad to be funny. And yes, some of it is a little ... not quite twee, but going in that direction; as a woman in 2015 it is difficult for me to symp ...more
Sep 15, 2013 Joan rated it liked it
Miss Ranskill has spent 4 years of a desert island with The Carpenter and returns to Britain during the war and is bewildered at what she finds. Coupons rations and "doing our bit" are all alien concepts to her after 4 years of survival living (whilst managing to find peace and happiness with the Carpenter) the make do and mend attitude seems a bit unnecessary as she feels 2 outfits are enough now. She was very fond of the Carpenter and though he died she is inspired by his attitude to life to b ...more
Aug 01, 2015 Tiffany rated it really liked it
"It was strange that values should make such a flashing change. ...There was not one truth but many. Was it possible for anyone to be innocent of the death of one just man?"

I was expecting something a little more farcical a la Three Men in a Boat but this isn't that. It's funny in parts but in an ironical fashion. The tone is more of grief, deprivation, and isolation; the sadness of loss and the liberation of loss. All told with that stiff-upper-lip Britishness that does not allow the story to l
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Barbara Euphan Todd was born in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, the only child of Anglican minister Thomas Todd and Alice Maud Mary (née Bentham), but was brought up in the rural village of Soberton in Hampshire. She was educated at a girls' school in Guildford in Surrey. She worked as a VAD during World War I, and after her father's retirement lived with her parents in Surrey and began writing. Her e ...more
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“It was strange that values should make such a flashing change. ...There was not one truth but many. Was it possible for anyone to be innocent of the death of one just man?” 0 likes
“What adventures steel suffered, tempered by fire, shrunk by water, tired by use and revived by rest, keeping it's vitality for longer than a man could, whether it was worked for centuries, rested in an armoury or left to rust out its virtue at the bottom of a grave!” 0 likes
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