Frost at Morning, by Richmal Crompton

This story is centered on a group of children who come to play at a vicarage, where there's a kind of holiday club: for one reason or another, their parents can't or don't want to have to look after them.

Bits of it made me laugh: there's a woman (I think it may be the vicar's wife) who writes pulp romance books, who goes through a series of PAs:

"I thought of writing one on the lines of 'Does the road wind uphill all the way?' and - 'I am the captain of my soul'," she went on. "Do they come from the same poem or are they different ones?"
"I think they're different ones," said Greta, puzzling over a word that might have been "hyena" or "hyacinth" or even "hymnal". The rest of the sentence gave little clie.
"You know..." said Mrs. Sanders, "I've been wondering whether to get a - dictaphone, they're called, aren't they? They're less soulless than typewriters and shorthand, and I think that if I actually told the story instead of writiung it, I would work myself up better."
"I think you work yourself up quite well now," said Greta, deciding that the word was "hymen".

Again there was a slightly dated feeling to the writing. One of the parents is ill:

Grace lay on the sofa, her eyes closed. The attack of pain had passed, leaving her exhausted. Her cheekbones stood out sharply over her sunken cheeks.

I think Grace ends up dying, but it sort of happens offstage, and the illness is never named. And this really raised my eyebrows:

He chuckled.
"Then you must let the old man teach you. You might be the old man's grand-daughter, you know. He'd be very proud to have a pretty little grand-daughter like you... Now here's the club and here's the ball. Stand here, my dear. Hold the club like this... No, you're not quite in the right position. Bend over your club so..."
The claw-like hands moved about her, furtively fingering the soft young breasts.
"No, you're standing too stiffly. Let grandpa show you..."
His hands moved with lingering relish down the long slender thighs. "That's better. Now-"
Monica stood upright. If it hadn't been for Stephen, she would have endured it in silent misery, but, because of Stephen, she coudln't. She threw Mr. Ferguson a glance that, depsite the beating of her heart, was cool and assured.
"Please don't touch me any more," she said. "I don't like it."
This seemed very forward for a novel written in 1950.

The book was a bit sad, and maybe would have been better without the happy-ish ending, but it was just so nice to read I can't complain - mainly it made me want to say thank-you to her.

Completed : 12-Aug-2017

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