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Miss Ranskill Comes Home

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  382 ratings  ·  71 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.

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
Jun 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2016, war, odd
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
Jul 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
While browsing in Persephone shop, my eyes were immediately caught by the premise of this novel - a woman falls off a cruise, washes ashore an island (already inhabited by one castaway), where she survives for over 3 years, and finally is rescued and returns to an England at war that she doesn’t recognise! Sounds unreal, and there is an aspect of fantasy here, but Barbara Euphan Todd, of the Worzel Gummage fame, offers a very smart and thought-provoking read that is fun too.

Both comic and
Lady Shockley
Jun 05, 2016 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 ...more
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Nona Ranskill fell overboard froma cruise ship and was washed up on a dessert island. Here, her only company is The Carpenter, who had also found himself on the island. They develop a close, platonic relationship as they find ways to cope with their new life. When the Carpenter dies, Miss Ranskill takes the boat they've been building and sets off to try and make it home. She is rescued and comes back to an England she finds unrecognisable to the one she left. Now in the middle of WW2, she finds ...more
Dec 27, 2013 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 ...more
Alice Lippart
Sep 17, 2017 rated it liked it
Enjoyable, funny and interesting, although a bit slow in parts.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: classic-fiction
4 Stars. Delightful and poignant. An absolute gem.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Miss Ranskill comes home to a totally different world than the one she last saw. War coupons, rationing, blackout curtains, German bombers overhead! What a world she’s come back to. Excellent story. I loved her fiesty spirit, but wanted to throttle many of her aquaintances, friends and family.
Jan 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a wonderful way to start the new year! I've had this book on my shelf for years and I always thought it would be a somewhat cozy read about Britain's home front during the war. So I was surprised when the book opens with a woman digging a grave with her bare hands to bury her only companion on a desert island. It's not giving anything away to say that Miss Ranskill makes her way home from that island but everything has changed. The country is now at war, food and clothing cannot be ...more
Jan 21, 2008 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 ...more
Jul 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: persephone
'Miss Ranskill Comes Home' was published in 1946 and is written by Barbara Euphan Todd,who is well known for her 'Worzel Gummidge' Stories for children.
When Nona Ranskill trips and falls overboard a ship trying to rescue her hat, she finds herself washed up on a remote desert island.She soons discovers she was rescued by a man who also has become stranded upon the island too.
Three years pass by and her companion who she calls 'Carpenter' dies. After the ordeal of the burial,Miss Ranskill sets
Jun 21, 2010 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 ...more
Jun 03, 2014 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 ...more
3.5 stars

Stuck on a desert island for four years, this book follows Miss Ranskill's life upon her return home. My only quibble is I had a lot of questions about her life on the island that went unanswered.
Apr 12, 2016 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
Dec 12, 2013 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
Apr 21, 2012 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
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 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.
Lauren Stringer
Jul 06, 2013 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!
Funny, sad and ironic. Might just be my favorite Persephone re-print yet.
Aug 26, 2013 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 ...more
Jul 28, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, historical-fiction, uk, e
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 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
Jun 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: month-06, 2009
This 1946 novel is about a woman who goes on a cruise and is swept overboard; she lives for four 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
Dec 06, 2011 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 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).
Mar 19, 2008 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.
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