I should be very, very sad; after all, this is the final Mrs. Tim book. However, author D.E. Stevenson does such a wonderful job entertaining the reader that the book is over before one has the chance to turn melancholy.
In this (fourth or fifth, depending on whether one counts Golden Days: Further Leaves from Mrs. Tim's Journal as half of Mrs. Tim Christie or a stand-alone) novel, Hester Christie comes to the English countryside to await her husband's return from Kenya, where he is currently stationed. She rents a house in the backwater village of Old Quinings -- called The Small House after a home in an Anthony Trollope novel -- from a harridan named Olivia Stoude. This rude, greedy woman inherited the house from her kindly step-mother, the beloved Lorna Stroude, who built The Small House. Hester meets some wonderful new people, such as Susan Morven, a pretty young girl saddened by her parents' rocky marriage; Anne Carlyle, the learned but awkward spinster who's schoolmistress and librarian in Old Quinings; and the malicious Miss Crease, who lives next door. She also is reunited with old friends Tony Morley, now a general, and Annie and Fred Bollings.
All of the Mrs. Tim Christie novels are magnificent, but, in this one, there's more action than usual as wagging tongues malign Hester as an adulteress, several romances are kindled, and a missing valuable letter penned by Lord Byron goes missing. That the resolution will reward the good and give the wicked their comeuppance, while foreordained, still contains a twist or two.
However, as with the other Mrs. Tim books, the real pleasure remains in enjoying the characters. Whether the detestable Miss Stroude, the shy but loyal "Hedgehog" Edgeburton or the lovable but mischievous MacDougall twins, Stevenson makes her characters into living, breathing folks who feel you really know. Even in novels where not much happens, such as Mrs. Tim Gets a Job, it doesn't really matter: Stevenson paints the everyday situations as so humorous or interesting that nothing else matters.
Readers would be best served to start with the first book, Mrs. Tim of the Regiment: A Novel (Bloomsbury Group), also published as Mrs. Tim Christie. But the final volume, Mrs. Tim Flies Home, proves a fabulous capstone to a memorable series.