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The Beauty of the End
Debbie Howells

from FictionZeal.com re: Boardinghouse Stew by E.E. Smith

Boardinghouse Stew - E. E. Smith

Ya gotta love Teddy!  Actually no one in Mrs. Mumson’s boardinghouse seems to love or even like Teddy too much except for eleven-year-old Eileen.  Teddy likes to cut-up; have fun; and even annoy people, but that summer, he was Eileen‘s lifesaver.  Bored out of her mind with her chores at the boardinghouse, Teddy treated her like she was somebody; everyone else treated her like she was just a child.  She even had a very innocent crush on Teddy.  And the boardinghouse?  That’s exactly what it was, but Mrs. Mumson held to the belief it was her ‘guest house’ and not a boardinghouse.

 

The times were tough in the US after the attack on Pearl Harbor and at the outset of WWII.  Mrs. Mumson had an array of characters at her board … oh, um, guest house located in Sacramento, CA.  One was Iris who was an air raid warden and took her job very seriously.  When the siren would sound, everyone had to listen to her advice which actually sounded more like orders.  There was Howard who had to share a room with Teddy and could not wait to have a room of his own.  There was the doctor who became an absolute klutz, even running headlong into the sideboard, every time he saw the beautiful Patsy.

 

The characters in this novel are striking.  Through this author’s talented writing, I could see and hear every scene very clearly.  This is actually her story (names changed) – she was Eileen and the year was 1943.  With the war, jobs became very hard to fill, so when Mrs. Mumson’s former maid left to become a riveter at the shipyard, she gladly hired Eileen who had lied about her age.  To Mrs. Mumson, Eileen was thirteen.  While these times were hard, they were also vibrant.  Music from big bands played on the radio; popular dances were jitterbugging and swing; kid’s games were hopscotch and kick-the-can; and the trendy lingo of the young people confused their elders.  ‘Keep your shorts on’ or ‘keep your shirt on’ meant be patient; ‘can it’ meant shut up; a ‘broad’ or ‘dame’ was a woman; ‘cat’s meow’ was the best; and while ‘hoofer’ meant good dancer, ‘dead hoofer’ meant poor dancer.  Boardinghouse stew was a ‘lulu’ (excellent).  Rating 5 out of 5.