The New Moon with the Old, Dodie Smith

Ordinarily I only ever read this book when I have just finished I Capture the Castle and I need my Dodie Smith fix to continue.  It’s really not the most fantastic book you’ve ever seen, but it’s rather charming.  I am susceptible to its charms even when I know the entire book is totally far-fetched and these things would never ever happen.

The book is about the Carrington family, whose father goes on the run for vague and unspecified money-type crimes, just after he has engaged a secretary/housekeeper type, Jane Minton, who plans like Thoroughly Modern Millie to marry her boss.  There are four children and not much money, and one after another they all go off to seek their fortunes.  Precocious fourteen-year-old Merry, intending to go on the London stage, ends up hanging out at the home of some minor nobility and becoming involved in a totally absurd romantic situation; innocent twenty-something (22 maybe?) Drew becomes an old lady’s companion and finds he is after all capable of disliking people; Clare, who dreams of being a king’s mistress, gets a job reading to an old man (seriously, I want that job) who actually was an ex-king; and poor Richard has to stay home and take care of everything at home.

The author’s not attempting realism here, but the book is fun and amusing.  I like Clare’s story the best, probably because – as I say – I would really like to have a job reading to an old man, particularly if, as here, it came with room and board.  I am fantastically good at reading out loud.  The rich old people of the world should be so lucky as to have me to read to them.

Er, anyway.  If a perfect lack of plausibility doesn’t bother you, and you like those sort of previously-privileged-kids-go-off-to-have-adventures books, read this!  It will make you smile.

  • It really sounds like it will 🙂

  • Thanks for the review of this book. I found an old rebound copy of it at the library but had no clue if it was worth my time. Thanks to your review I’ll be checking it out!

  • jennysbooks

    Yes, do! I want to know what other people think, given that I am the only person I know who’s read this book. 🙂 Remember to expect that it’s going to be a bit silly. Otherwise the implausibility of the plot will blow your mind.

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  • Having read your review of It Ends with Revelations, I thought I should see what you said about my other favourite Dodie Smith, especially as you say you don’t know anyone else who’s read it! I read it first when I was about Merry’s age, and every bit as mad about acting as she was, and actually not so very long after it was published. I admired Jane immensely, and like you, thought that I really wouldn’t mind Clare’s job, but I think my favourite character is Drew, and I like his part of the story best. I wonder if I would have found him too saintly in reality? I love the house, too, it’s a character in itself!

    It’s funny, I don’t think it DID seem so implausible then, there were deposed kings in London…

  • It did make me smile! I just wish that it had of been longer