The British main character of this novel, Rachel, worries so much about keeping up appearances, but she is also a social disaster with very little common sense (even though she doesn't know it). I find her to be one part Bridget Jones and one part Hyacinth Bucket. Now imagine that such a person inherits a mansion. Of course, she'll quit her job, leave the city, use her savings for extravagant repairs, and pretend that she's much richer than she really is.
This book originally came out in hardback in the '80s and was nominated for the Booker Prize. The judge that nominated it for the prize wrote the introduction for the new paperback version of the book, trying to explain to the readers why he finds the book to be so brilliant and how disappointed he is that the other judges didn't see the book from his point of view. He finds it clever that the author has readers feeling embarrassed for the main character's actions and words and also feeling protective of her even if she thinks she's socially superior to those around her. This, however, is not what I find brilliant about the novel. What I find brilliant is that all the disasters that I expected to happen to the heroine of the novel is not the disaster that actually falls upon her in the end. Sure, there are plenty of hints as to the impending and final disaster, but it was so many other disasters that I had expected that I did find myself staying up quite late turning pages to find out which one did fall upon her.
I really can't see very many men reading and enjoying this book, so I'm not surprised it didn't end up winning the Booker Prize. I hope that readers do notice the original copyright of 1982 when reading this book, too. However, some of the ideas seem even a little too old fashioned even for 1982. For example, Rachel and her roommate are only in their 40s and are considered to be old maids that would have no chance of getting married or landing a new job at their age. While I'm sure it was meant to be charming, I personally found the British social snootiness of the novel to be kind of annoying. However, I think the story could cross time and cultural barriers because Rachel's social and personal follies are universally possible any time or anywhere.Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.