I read it again, and I loved it. this is definitely a comfort read for me. Ah, the madcap chaos of it all. The naughty cat, the charming Cyril, the annoying people. Total love.
Speaking of books I love, down to every last detail, this is on the short list. The Chapter headings! The Tennyson quotes! The classism, sexism, and racism as viewed from a more enlightened viewpoint! The dog! The mystery novels of the Thirties! Time travel! Aggressive swans! Rowing on the Thames! Little screamlets! The sleep-deprived mental muddle which no one has ever described so well in print as Willis! Romance! Comedy! The horror of war!
I own a copy that is spine-challenged and so worn from re-reading, even though I am a particularly gentle user of books. This is my idea of an uplifting story, with couples formed up at the end.
Two thoughts: it amuses me that I read this twice in less than a month, finishing on my birthday, and again on the birth day of my first born. Comfort in times of stress, indeed. The other is that Willis holds two superlatives in my book. She is the author who makes me cry the hardest ("Last of the Winnebagos", Doomsday Book, Passage) and also the one who makes me laugh the hardest (Bellwether, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and Crosstalk).
And another thought: this may be the book I've read the most.