Book Club #12 – One Pair of Hands – Monica Dickens

This book club was the anniversary edition! It was a whole year since we first got together and from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier we have come right round to Monica. Monica Dickens and her memoir – One Pair of Hands.

It was a book which I think everyone enjoyed. It made most of us laugh. K was amazed at her complete inability to cook despite saying she could whip up a soufflé at the drop of a hat. W mentions the amount of crockery she was breaking, and as L said, it was probably costing her more in replacements than in wages. K – she was good at doing nothing and getting all the work done by everyone else, even the Hoover sales man who kept coming back to see Monica and doing a lot of washing up! Perhaps that was to save even more plates being broken?

It was a humourous book, that we all agreed was well written but there was no story – and as C says but not in a detrimental way quite a forgettable book. At times you thought that you were going to get a bit of a story happening, especially when an ex boyfriend shows up – but you turn the page and nothing. Just the next lurching and messy disaster in the kitchen to get through. A book that was a pleasant diversion and made a change but it would have been nice we decided if we had more descriptions of the houses she worked in, their structure, layout, the furnishing and more about the other servants she encountered too.

As I said, Monica was playing at being a servant, she felt that those ‘downstairs;’ were having more fun than she was. But the fundamental difference being when she was bored with it, she could go back ‘upstairs’. All of us if we had a choice would certainly like to lie ‘upstairs’! Working downstairs would have been a long hard slog, especially if we had someone who had his finger permanently on the bell summoning us, and if this meant entering that rather smelly room, where Mr Parrish was languishing or perhaps that is festering in bed! Made W cringe! L as a dog owner, was rather aware of what would happen when Mr Parrish dog was given the failed crème brulee, it was going to come back at some point.Although written well, K says it was not quite up to her great grandfather’s standard of writing, but I suppose that would be a lot to live up to and the constant comparison pressure would be a headache.

One Pair of Feet, Monica’s experiences at being a nurse during the Second World War is being reissued in December and whilst I don’t think there would be a rush from all of us to buy and read it, there is a perverse interest in whether she treats patients the same way as cooking!

It really did not matter if you had not finished the book, as there was no ending or twist to spoil it. A book which you can pick up and put down and know exactly where you were.

So there you go, a whole year of book club and I am so pleased that it has kept momentum, despite illness, holiday and life getting in the way, we have read a great variety of books and everyone is enjoying it which is the key thing and we have lined up at least the next four books as well. It certainly helps with having questions, prepared and I have a standard set which I can use for books which don’t necessarily have questions so that helps discussion. This book I don’t think could even fulfil those questions, but that is the type of book that it was – a memoir perhaps makes a difference to the way discussion can go?

I will endeavour to try and continue to write the reports on my book club, as it is great way to consolidate all that we talk about and I hope if you read my blog you are enjoying it too.

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