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Miss Ranskill Comes Home

by Barbara Euphan Todd
Persephone book no:

45 46 47


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A Well Full of Leaves
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AFTERWORD BY WENDY POLLARD
336pp
ISBN 9781903155363

This 1946 novel, by the author of the Worzel Gummidge books, 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 the same time. Rosamond Lehmann considered Miss Ranskill Comes Home 'a work of great originality, and delightfully readable, a blend of fantasy, satire and romantic comedy... a very entertaining novel and less light than it seems.' This has been an especial Persephone favourite.

Also available as a Persephone eBook.

For more on Miss Ranskill Comes Home, have a look at the Persephone Perspective.

Endpaper

The endpaper is 'Sutherland Rose', a 1946 screen-printed cotton textured fabric designed by Graham Sutherland for Helios.

Picture Caption

WWII poster by Fougasse


Read What Readers Say

Marcella and Her Books

In ‘Miss Ranskill Comes Home’ we meet a woman who fell overboard a cruise ship in 1938 after an unfortunate slip and found herself stranded on a desert island. She only finds her way back to Britain in 1942, a country now in the middle of the Second World War. Let me start by saying this book feels incredibly modern. It was first published in 1946 and would have been a contemporary story at the time. But it could just as well be historical fiction written now. I was expecting a cosy perhaps even whimsical book and I was surprised by how deeply reflective it was, and how it provides a social commentary on Britain at the time. Miss Ranskill had spent many a time fantasising about her return to England, but when finally she does, she finds herself lost in a place where rationing, coupon books, black-outs and drills are now the order of the day. She finds it hard to fit in in a society that is on the one hand suffering terrible losses and destruction and on the other hand uses very rigid rules and is fixated on trivial norms. Having been away, she questions and critiques the new way of living in Britain and thus finds herself misunderstood by her family, feeling a stranger in her own country and even longing to be back on the island, where things were hard, but made sense. She longs to share her grief, and her traumatic experience of being stranded on a desert island, but finds no one quite understands what she has been through. I think everyone who has ever been away from home for an extended period of time will recognise the alienating feeling of returning to a place that should feel familiar and comforting but isn’t.

Categories: WWII

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