Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker (1939)

Norman Huntley and his friend Henry have been making up stories since they were young and they have pretended to know people who don’t even exist. But when they invent an eighty-three-year-old woman called Miss Hargreaves, they are more than surprised to see their new fictional friend standing beside them one day. Miss Hargreaves is exactly as he had imagined her – she is an eccentric and extraordinary old woman who makes Norman’s life difficult. Furthermore, she brings chaos into his sleepy Buckinghamshire town. As Norman tries to tell his friends and family about Miss Hargreaves’s arrival, he encounters difficulties, since the young man doesn’t even know where the curious old lady came from. Ever since Miss Hargreaves entered Norman’s peaceful life, everything has been tumultuous and weird, and the young man must now decide if he wants the old woman to be part of his life any longer or if he wants his once-ordinary life back. But how does one get rid of such an incredible person when one does not know where she came from in the first place?

Miss Hargreaves is a hilarious book about an unusual friendship; it’s a wonderful story about creativity, the power of imagination and the its consequences. I have wanted to read this book since I discovered it last year and I am happy that I finally had the chance to do so because it was exactly as I had imagined it. I liked this unusual story and I liked Norman because he is a creative young man who, on the spur of a moment, likes to invent people or events that have never taken place. For him, it’s entertaining and amusing to make up these stories and he is very good at it and very convincing. But when Norman and his friend Henry invent Miss Hargreaves, their troubles begin. Although it was only meant as a silly joke, the young men are shocked to learn that their creation has somehow come alive. And since the old lady makes Norman’s life very complicated, he thinks about putting her off. Still, he isn’t quite sure if he really wants to get rid of her for good. On the one hand, he likes this eccentric and impossible old lady, but on the other hand, Miss Hargreaves drives Norman mad, with her oddities and strange behaviour. That’s why I really sympathized with him; I felt his frustration toward Miss Hargreaves, but I also understood why he was proud of his creation.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading about Norman and his unusual friend and I found their adventures very entertaining and funny. I liked all the characters in this book and I loved the dated language. If you like to read books set in the past and if you like imaginative tales, Miss Hargreaves will be the perfect novel for you!

Note: This review has been written for Nymeth’s 1930s Mini-Challenge.



8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Helen (She Reads Novels)
    May 25, 2010 @ 19:08:37

    I’ve just ordered this book so I’m glad to know that you enjoyed it! I’m really looking forward to it after reading your review.


  2. Aarti
    May 25, 2010 @ 19:25:05

    I have this book, so I’m thrilled to hear you enjoyed it 🙂 I am considering taking it with me on my upcoming trip, but also think I should be reading some books that have been sitting on my shelf far longer…


  3. Lua
    May 26, 2010 @ 05:19:40

    Sounds amazing! I love stories about creativity and power of imagination- and inventing people is kind of what I’m trying to do everyday 🙂 I always wondered what I’d do if I were to run into a character I wrote about one day (have you seen the movie Stranger than Fiction? It’s one of my favorites…) and sounds like this is a book I would very much enjoy reading. Thanks for the great review Andreea!


  4. Simon T
    May 26, 2010 @ 11:46:42

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the book! As you might be able to see from the back of the book, I suggested this to Bloomsbury, and now have an alert for when reviews come up – it’s my favourite novel, and I’m always delighted to see when new people have come across Miss H.


  5. vivienne
    May 26, 2010 @ 16:01:07

    I just want all of these books! They are calling me to read them.


  6. Kathleen
    May 26, 2010 @ 17:44:28

    I’ve heard a lot of good things about this book. It sounds funny and charming and a nice break from all of the non-fiction I have been reading of late!


  7. Jo
    May 26, 2010 @ 23:07:17

    I really wanted to love this, I so much loved the idea of it. But when I actually read it, I was dasapointed, although I couldn’t quite say why. I thin I’m in the minority thoug, as lots of people seem to love it!


  8. Nymeth
    Jun 01, 2010 @ 08:26:13

    First of all, congrats for doing so well on the challenge! You’ve read more books for it than anyone else so far. This was already on my wishlist (what with it being a Bloomsbury Group book and all), but now I want it more than ever.


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