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Vittoria Cottage (Dering Family, #1)
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Group Reads > Vittoria Cottage Aug. 2020 Chaps. 20-end

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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1221 comments Mod
How are you liking it so far?


Barb in Maryland | 485 comments It is so easy to get swept up. I started today in chapter 5 and just finished 23!
I think I can see where some of the plot is going to go, but basically I am just letting DES tell the story she wants to tell.


message 3: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments I tried so hard not to gallop through this, but I did. But, anyway, my lasting impression is of Caroline's kindness (and I have to laugh at her little rebellions with Mrs. Meldrum) and how she really and truly wants what's best for her family and friends, no matter how prickly and obnoxious they are. Not a bad definition of love, is it?


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 688 comments She is kind of an embodiment of love, isn't she? That's pretty much acknowledged in the birth scene, when she comforts and calms Sue just by holding her hand.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1221 comments Mod
Lol, Karlyne. Yeah, I read this in 2 days.


Emilia Barnes | 23 comments Abigail wrote: "She is kind of an embodiment of love, isn't she? That's pretty much acknowledged in the birth scene, when she comforts and calms Sue just by holding her hand."

Aww that's a really nice way of putting it Abigail!


Emilia Barnes | 23 comments I'm wondering, does anyone know anything about the political background to this novel? I'm specifically referring to the birth scene, where Widgeon complains about (I think?) the Labour government. And also James' fighting in Asia.


Barb in Maryland | 485 comments The book was first published in 1949 and fairly accurately presented life in rural England of that time. The National Health Service was established in 1948, which changed the availability of doctors in rural areas--that's the root of the complaints during the birth of Sue's baby.
The Army went from fighting fascism in WWII to fighting USSR-backed communist insurgencies in the crown colonies--hence James' tour of duty in Malaya.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1221 comments Mod
Very interesting, Barb, thanks!


message 10: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments I think we tend to think that between WWII and the Korean War, we were at peace, but there was still plenty going on in those years. James was too young for WWII, but at 22 in 1949, he'd already served for three years in Malay. Lots of what, I'm sure, was meant to be mopping up the after-effects of the war, but ended up as just the tip of the iceberg.


message 11: by Kavan (last edited Aug 05, 2020 03:47PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kavan | 85 comments The second the NHS comment came up I had flashbacks to last year's the Far Country read where Shute spent chapters ranting about the NHS. Thankfully DES didn't go anywhere near that far.


message 12: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Kavan wrote: "The second the NHS comment came up I had flashbacks to last year's the Far Country read where Shute spent chapters ranting about the NHS. Thankfully DES didn't go anywhere near that far."

I'm guessing that the transition, for country folk especially, was hard and somewhat bewildering! And the paperwork had just begun...


Emilia Barnes | 23 comments Kavan wrote: "The second the NHS comment came up I had flashbacks to last year's the Far Country read where Shute spent chapters ranting about the NHS. Thankfully DES didn't go anywhere near that far."

Yes because as far as I know the NHS meant that tonnes more people had affordable care where previously they wouldn't.

Both Widgeon's views and Caroline's seem to agree with the types of people they are, but it does make me think about DES's views, which, if she agrees with Caroline and Widgeon, seem really conservative.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 688 comments I suspect it was just a little grousing about the unfamiliar and newfangled. Plus any massive government program takes a little while to iron out the kinks. It might well be that in the earliest years they didn't have enough doctors to go around--especially just after the war, with nearly all doctors being men.

I am interested to read a book that paints a portrait of what things were like for the British in the aftermath of WWII. They had been through such horrors, and everyone had lost so much and lost so many loved ones, and they were still living with tremendous austerity and ruins everywhere. Here in America, we had wartime rationing and lost a lot of soldiers, but our homeland was largely untouched (save for Hawaii) and we bounced back a lot faster. I find all the characters trying to lead normal lives in the midst of so much destruction and hardship very touching--and the selfish young people all the more egregious.


Emilia Barnes | 23 comments Abigail wrote: "I am interested to read a book that paints a portrait of what things were like for the British in the aftermath of WWII."

Same, that would be really interesting. There was a lovely programme on BBC2 once called "Back in Time for...", where they took a family through all the decades of the 20th century, and they had to cook and eat the sort of things people did back then, and dress like them etc. It was very interesting. Don't know if anybody else has seen it:

Back in Time for...

Abigail wrote: "I find all the characters trying to lead normal lives in the midst of so much destruction and hardship very touching--and the selfish young people all the more egregious."

Agreed, it's a good message to read about right now, in a way, to see what other generations have withstood we can withstand this too.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 688 comments Actually, I meant this book. I don't seem to be communicating well today. I am enjoying this portrait of life for the British in the aftermath of WWII.

And you're right about it having good messages for how we can meet the challenges of today!


Emilia Barnes | 23 comments Abigail wrote: "Actually, I meant this book. I don't seem to be communicating well today. I am enjoying this portrait of life for the British in the aftermath of WWII."

Argh! Sorry! :D You're right though Vittoria Cottage is definitely a very interesting portrait of its times!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 688 comments No, it's me, I've been incoherent and opaque all day, enough to make a good friend really mad at me!


Emilia Barnes | 23 comments Oh, just got to the bit about Hamlet - that made me laugh.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 688 comments I kept thinking A Boy's Hamlet and guffawing!


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Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Emilia wrote: "Oh, just got to the bit about Hamlet - that made me laugh."

I laughed at Caroline and Robert, too, for not getting the clues until Peter actually said, "Hamlet". I had immediately thought of Laurence Olivier's film; I just checked and it was presented in 1948, so just a nice bit of real history here, too!


message 22: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Abigail wrote: "Actually, I meant this book. I don't seem to be communicating well today. I am enjoying this portrait of life for the British in the aftermath of WWII.

And you're right about it having good messag..."


Haha, Abigail! I read it the same way as Emilia and was wondering why this book didn't qualify! I remember decades ago reading a British book written in the '50s that spoke of rationing, and I was very surprised to find out that it lasted that long! The War lingered so much longer there than it did in the States; to most Americans growing up in the '50s and '60s it was, sadly, ancient history .


message 23: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Leda's "Why me?" reaction reminded me of the old Tanya Harding skating scandal; when Nancy Kerrigan was whacked in the knee, that's what she kept crying. I remember thinking that it was such a weird reaction, because it seems to say that it's ok for tragedy to strike - but not at me! I think Caroline is right that it's the difference between a proud nature and a humble one.


Emilia Barnes | 23 comments Karlyne wrote: "Leda's "Why me?" reaction reminded me of the old Tanya Harding skating scandal; when Nancy Kerrigan was whacked in the knee, that's what she kept crying. I remember thinking that it was such a weir..."

I literally just got through that bit in the book, and yes it is remarkable and so telling about both their characters. I think Leda's reaction is somewhat natural - it's normal for a person to have a moment of "why me?" when something awful happens to them (view spoiler) but I think a humbler, more even-tempered person would come down from their shock and realise "well, why not me?" That was probably how Caroline handled all the unhappiness of her own life. Including, ironically, Leda's treatment of her throughout the book!


message 25: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Emilia wrote: "Karlyne wrote: "Leda's "Why me?" reaction reminded me of the old Tanya Harding skating scandal; when Nancy Kerrigan was whacked in the knee, that's what she kept crying. I remember thinking that it..."

So true! You never hear Caroline even so much as whispering to herself, "What have I done to deserve such a child!"


message 26: by Susan in NC (last edited Aug 08, 2020 08:36AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1370 comments Karlyne wrote: "Abigail wrote: "Actually, I meant this book. I don't seem to be communicating well today. I am enjoying this portrait of life for the British in the aftermath of WWII.

And you're right about it ha..."


I know grousing against “them”, ie, the post-war government, and ongoing austerity, are standard pieces of every one of Angela Thirkell’s post-war Barsetshire novels - sometimes, she goes on quite a bit, the bitterness really comes through.

Then I see episodes of “Call the Midwife”, and the generally positive impact of post-war government on the London working poor (new housing, medical care, social services, etc), and I can’t help wondering if it was a class and urban/rural thing - the upper classes never got to return to their position in society, got hit with death taxes, etc. I imagine that would fuel a lot of resentment for those who felt things were taken away, or altered beyond recognition.


Jackie | 379 comments that makes perfect sense, Susan.

I had been surprised at the same attitude in recently re-watching the series The Darling Buds of May: making fun of/complaining about National Health when I know from living in the US that what we have currently is so much worse.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1370 comments Jackie wrote: "that makes perfect sense, Susan.

I had been surprised at the same attitude in recently re-watching the series The Darling Buds of May: making fun of/complaining about National Health when I know ..."


Oh, I watched that years ago and loved it! Wondered who is that absolutely stunning young woman? Know now it was Catherine Zeta-Jones.


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1221 comments Mod
Coincidences are funny. I was just randomly looking at Catherine Zeta-Jones’s bio on Wikipedia last night, wondering what she’s been doing lately.


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Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Chalk up another coincidence: I just put Darling Buds of May on my Amazon queue! I read it years ago and I remember it as being weirdly funny.

I think the thing about the NHS was that it benefited the big city poverty-stricken immediately, but a lot of country folks lost their doctors and more time was spent traveling and less time treating. Kind of reminds me of when schools were centralized, now that I think of it...


message 31: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Susan in NC wrote: "Karlyne wrote: "Abigail wrote: "Actually, I meant this book. I don't seem to be communicating well today. I am enjoying this portrait of life for the British in the aftermath of WWII.

And you're r..."


Did you read the books, Susan? They were fascinating. Her "In the Midst of Life" is one I can't recommend enough for anyone who has thoughts about what death means or should mean.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1370 comments Karlyne wrote: "Susan in NC wrote: "Karlyne wrote: "Abigail wrote: "Actually, I meant this book. I don't seem to be communicating well today. I am enjoying this portrait of life for the British in the aftermath of..."

Sorry, having trouble following the stream- whose books? The title is Not familiar to me.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1370 comments Oh, the Midwife writer! No, I had not heard about her at all until I got hooked on the show! I almost forget she was one of the original midwives, so many cast changes over the years!


message 34: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments Susan in NC wrote: "Oh, the Midwife writer! No, I had not heard about her at all until I got hooked on the show! I almost forget she was one of the original midwives, so many cast changes over the years!"

That's funny, Susan! I had responded to your comment from a couple of days ago, because that's where Goodreads took me. (Don't ask me to read their minds). Anyway, Jennifer Worth, the Midwife author, is absolutely worth (sorry, no pun intended) reading.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1370 comments Thank you, always wondered!


message 36: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
Susan in NC wrote: "I can’t help wondering if it was a class and urban/rural thing - the upper classes never got to return to their position in society, got hit with death taxes, etc. I imagine that would fuel a lot of resentment for those who felt things were taken away, or altered beyond recognition..."

I think that must have been the case. The episode with the extra chickens was telling, too. All that red tape for a few more Rhode Island Reds!!!


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1370 comments I know, right?


Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽ | 1221 comments Mod
I really enjoyed the little details like that, that were true about rural life in England post-WWII.


Jackie | 379 comments The Twentieth Century will always be my favorite century.


message 40: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
lol Jackie. I've pretty much given up on the 21st century already, though I have to remind myself that the 20th century got off to a pretty ghastly start! Still nothing is quite as horrible as the 14th century, what with bubonic plague and the Hundred Years War (check out A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century and Doomsday Book)


Jackie | 379 comments nothing is quite as horrible as the 14th century
did you watch Good Omens? Everyone's favorite demon, Crowley, says he really hates the 14th Century. I guess that's why.


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