Greyladies specializes in reprinting books by authors better known for their children’s writing. The Other Miss Perkin is by Lorna Hill, author of the Wells ballet stories and other series for children. Anyone who’s read the Wells books or The Vicarage Children will recognise immediately the Cumbrian locations of Miss Perkin. For me, this gave the book added interest but it can be enjoyed by anyone as a Cinderella story. Martha Perkin grows up in a vicarage and stays there until the deaths of her parents. As she’s not trained for anything else, she becomes housekeeper to an old school fellow where she is unappreciated except by the son of the house and the cat. She loves to enter competitions and is astonished to win a luxury trip to the USA on board a Comet.
This seems incongruous to all and she is a bizarre figure, setting off in her ancient clothes, felt hat and battered suitcase; ‘English lady’ written all over her. Once she arrives in the States, a travelogue element enters the book which is a little tiresome but Miss Perkin’s naïve wonder at it all is enjoyable. ‘The other’ Miss Perkin appears when she meets a widower who seems not to see the plain, dull spinster she has always been taken for back home.
This will call up comparisons with Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day but I liked it better and found it much more like a D E Stevenson novel. It is very dated. As stated on the back of the book, although first published in 1978, it is ‘set firmly in the 1950s’ (by intent). A delightful escapist read.
Atlantic Crossings 2 will be about The Shuttle by Frances Hodgson Burnett.