finished reading

This novel explores the themes of social mores, gender roles, social politics, class, and race. Interestingly, the author set the book during the Spanish Flu outbreak.  All of that is wrapped up in a feel-good, often poignant story of Constance Haverhill.  Constance is at loose ends after WWI finds her eased out of the position she held during the war effort, and a temporary position as a caregiver leads her to Hazelbourne where she encounters Poppy Wirrall, a trouser-wearing upper-class rabble-rouser, and founder of the Ladies Motorcycle Club.  There is a tender romance that develops, which highlights the expectations of the gentry.   I didn't care for the one-dimensional American character; his plotline soured the story for me.

From the publisher:
It is the summer of 1919 and Constance Haverhill is without prospects. Now that all the men have returned from the front, she has been asked to give up her cottage and her job at the estate she helped run during the war. While she looks for a position as a bookkeeper or—horror—a governess, she’s sent as a lady’s companion to an old family friend who is convalescing at a seaside hotel. Despite having only weeks to find a permanent home, Constance is swept up in the social whirl of Hazelbourne-on-Sea after she rescues the local baronet’s daughter, Poppy Wirrall, from a social faux pas.

Poppy wears trousers, operates a taxi and delivery service to employ local women, and runs a ladies’ motorcycle club (to which she plans to add flying lessons). She and her friends enthusiastically welcome Constance into their circle. And then there is Harris, Poppy’s recalcitrant but handsome brother—a fighter pilot recently wounded in battle—who warms in Constance’s presence. But things are more complicated than they seem in this sunny pocket of English high society. As the country prepares to celebrate its hard-won peace, Constance and the women of the club are forced to confront the fact that the freedoms they gained during the war are being revoked.

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