I had never heard of E.H. Young, until accidentally stumbling onto reviews of two of her novels at The Bamboo Bookcase. These reviews were compelling enough that Miss Mole (1930) went to the top of my reading list.
Hannah Mole hides a keen wit and mischievous sense of humor under a drab appearance. Brought up on a farm near the fictional town of Radstowe (actually Bristol) her parents scrimped to send her to a good girls' school with her snobbish cousin Lilla. Now about age 40, Hannah is a spinster who has spent her life in dreary employment as an upper-level servant to various elderly ladies. Cousin Lilla, rich, married, and active in the chapel, is ashamed of having a cousin who is a housekeeper.
The opening adventure is only explained to us in bits, as the story progresses, but Hannah, by breaking a basement window with her shoe, prevents a man's suicide, which puts into motion the rest of the story. At its center is the fact that Hannah is a woman with a past, and an unctuous clergyman who knows her secret, arrives on scene to ruin her reputation for no reason other than it is his "unpleasant duty" to do so. Miss Mole's ending is eminently satisfying, although we never do learn how she came to be in a position to break that basement window.
This is truly a character driven novel. Miss Mole is likeable and flawed and has the ability to see herself objectively. The other characters are similarly complex and E. H. Young is extraordinarily skilled at putting into print the subtleties of human interactions. I am looking forward to reading more of her novels.