On this Mysterious Monday, we are pleased to introduce to you “a WWII tale of chicks and chicanery, suspicion and spies,” by Elaine Faber. The book is called Mrs. Odboddy: Hometown Patriot, and it is the first in a series that promises to be a lot of fun.
Everything goes sideways for Agnes Odboddy
We first meet Agnes Odboddy in a Red Cross Knitting Class, where…well, let’s just say she’s not doing very well. But a few dropped stitches are the least of her worries. The nation is caught up in a world war, and Mrs. Odboddy, a 70-year-old widow whose adult granddaughter, Katherine, lives with her, is determined to do her part as a hometown patriot. We can’t fault her for that, but it seems that everything she does turns out pretty much like her knitting.
Determined be a warrior on the home front, Agnes volunteers to address ration books, she rolls bandages, she mans the coastal watch tower, she is ever vigilant, on the lookout for spies and such … and she sees them everywhere. Strange activity on the coast? Agnes Odboddy doesn’t hesitate to check it out. And surely that new woman in the knitting circle is a Nazi spy. Why, Agnes even discovers a black market ration book scheme and goes on a stakeout to track the crooks down.
But somehow nothing works out quite right. Even her plan to raise hens so she and her granddaughter can have free eggs goes a little sideways. Okay, more than a little, and Agnes ends up keeping the birds in the house for a few days, until the chicken coop can be built. Let’s just say this does not go well. Hilarious for us, but uncomfortable for Agnes and Katherine.
Agnes is getting a reputation as a delusional nut, and even she has to wonder if she’s losing it.
But, you know what they say: just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean someone’s not out to get you.
A glimpse of World War II–era California, plus a cat
You know we love the history here, and there is plenty of it in Mrs. Odboddy: Hometown Patriot. The book has a nice flavor of the past and gives us an idea of what life might have been like for people on the California coast during the war, when an attack by Japan was a real possibility. Eleanor Roosevelt herself even makes an appearance. We also see Agnes struggle over what to do about Godfrey, the long-lost love who reenters her life. They apparently had a rather torrid affair years ago, but what will their relationship be now?
And yes, there is a cat. Agnes acquires a cross-eyed Siamese cat named Ling-Ling when the cat’s person, who is of Japanese descent, is suddenly sent to an internment camp. That episode raises the question of just what happened to people’s pets and homes and everything else when they were summarily rounded up and sent away. Anyway, Ling-Ling makes several appearances in the book (just imagine how well a cat and several chickens would get along) but is not a big player in the mystery. Agnes does talk to Ling-Ling, which of course is what humans do when they need to sort things out in their lives. She also talks to the chickens, but I still don’t understand why anyone would talk to a chicken when there’s a perfectly good cat in the house.
We enjoyed the story and the WWII-era atmosphere of this book. In many places, Faber’s writing put us tangibly in the scene, right next to Agnes as she did something that was, well, nuts. We found Agnes Odboddy very, very entertaining. She is, as they say, a character. We admire her willingness to step up and do what seems to need doing to defend the homeland. You can always depend on Agnes to do what she thinks is the right thing.
I have to hold back a paw only because the cat didn’t play a major role in the mystery, but Mrs. Odboddy: Hometown Patriot is an enjoyable read that we think will bring you a lot of chuckles.
A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!
We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!
The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account.