Original date of publication: 1946
My edition: 1985 (Virago Modern Classics)
Why I decided to read: It’s on the list of Virago Modern Classics
How I acquired my copy: The Last Word bookshop, Philadelphia
Set in the summer of 1946, One Fine Day is a novel about the inhabitants of one town as they try to regain some semblance of normal lives after WWII. Laura Marshall is the focal point of the story, but other characters meander in and out throughout the book. Even the dogs have personality.
Things are clearly changing; Laura, for example, tries to make do without household help, and the Cranmers leave the Manor after their family had been there for hundreds of years. Yet people are still forced to use ration books. The tone of the novel is bittersweet, a kind of wistful yearning for a way of life that can’t go on post-war: “it was too idiotic, but there she was all the time, down in her house in Wealding, struggling to keep up a life which had really ended.” Things are different for everyone, yet Laura and Stephen Marshall try to go on as they were before.
There’s not much “action,” as such; in fact this novel is written more as a group of character sketches. Mollie Panter-Downes writes beautifully; you can feel the breeze of a hot summer day up on Barrow Down. It’s a slow-moving, meandering book (much like the hot summer weather described in the book), and it takes a while to get into it. But once you do, this book is well worth it.