Mrs. Tim Carries On is the highly delightful sequel to Mrs. Tim of the Regiment, which follows the adventures of Hester Christie, wife of an Army Major. It is 1940, the war is fully underway, and Tim has been sent over to the front, leaving Hester with their two children Betty and Bryan. As Hester explains in her own way:
I proceed to explain my own peculiar method of ‘carrying on’. None of us could bear the war if we allowed ourselves to brood upon the wickedness of it and the misery it has entailed, so the only thing to do is not to allow oneself to think about it seriously, but just to skitter about on the service of life like a water beetle. In this was one can carry on and do one’s bit and remain moderately cheerful.
In her diary, Hester promises not to talk about the war except for the times when she worries—which, as it turns out, isn’t often. She deals primarily with the everyday life of being an officer's wife--some of it good, some of it tiring. Although the war is raging outside her little corner of England and her husband is away at war and her son is away at school, Hester always manages to remain cheerful about her situation—she even manages to retain her sense of humour through it all. I enjoyed the part of the novel where she travels to London and witnesses first-hand the air raids (there's even a brief mention of children in the subways, which ties in nicely to the book I read before this, Barbara Noble's Doreen).
However, she’s not nearly as funny in this book—maybe it’s the war-related stresses that she has to deal with. But Hester is realistic, and that’s why I like her so much, both in this book and Mrs. Tim of the Regiment. I love that she never becomes too dull about her children and their accomplishments (or lack thereof, as witnessed by Bryan and Betty’s letters home). It’s too bad that the Mrs. Tim books are out of print and therefore hard to find; they’re fantastic comfort reads.