The wit and sense of playfulness which permeates Mrs. Appleyard’s Year begins on the copyright page, after we read the 1941 date.
The author asserts that any resemblance between Mrs. Appleyard, members of her family, or other characters in this book, and any real person or persons, including the Scandinavian, is purely coincidental, and she can’t think how it happened.
When you read that, you know you are in for some light, fun reading. The book begins with a chapter called About the Appleyards which rambles on enchantingly from one thought to another from statues to getting older to details about her husband and four grown children, and her house
that was too small for them when the children were small, and that is too big now that the children range in size from five feet four to six feet two.
The book then proceeds to a short January chapter which begins
Faults Mrs. Appleyard certainly has. As she looks them over on the first day of the New Year they seem to her like the ‘other articles too numerous to mention,’ always mysteriously listed in auctioneers’ advertisements. Since she has had most of her defects for over half a century, she is well acquainted with them. Some of them, indeed, have become enjoyable simply because she has had them so long. For instance: if she did not impulsively bring home a large Chinese cabinet (because it was such a bargain) instead of the lacquer finger bowls she started out to buy, her family would be deprived of the pleasure of observing: ‘Now, isn’t that exactly like Mother.’
She tells more anecdotes which illustrate her ‘faults’ and ends the chapter with a list of the things she intends to ‘improve,’ like planning to ‘glance occasionally at her engagement book instead of keeping the entries in it a secret from herself.’ And then because it is getting ‘too depressing’ to continue on with her faults, she takes note of her ‘virtues,’ such as
She uses the brakes on her car instead of the horn.She balances her own checkbook, no matter how long it takes.She never makes a fourth at bridge to help anyone out. She found out long ago that she was no help.
And the month of January ends with her feeling pretty good about herself!
Really, as she thinks it over, she feels almost unbearably virtuous. Perhaps her own best contribution to a pleasant New Year for everyone would be for her to indulge in her vices a little more. So, that is her Resolution.
I just love this book, as I did twelve years ago. It is a joy to read.