Friday, November 16, 2012

Jane Shaw Encyclopedia: Mrs. Weatherby

Mrs. Weatherby is a resident of Wichwood Village who makes quite an impact on the pages of No Trouble for Susan. When Susan and the Carmichaels start to run the bookshop for Louella, Mrs. Weatherby is one of their first customers. Described as a local busybody and loathed by children and adults alike, she is angry to discover that Louella has placed the store in the hands of children rather than calling on her to help. Describing herself as a bookworm, she cannot understand why Louella has never shown interest in forming a partnership with her, as she has often hinted. Mrs. Weatherby is disdainful of academic achievements, complaining that Louella’s assistant Mrs. Telford’s B.A. degree does not automatically qualify her to work with books. Mrs. Weatherby believes that she was given a solid background in literature by her father, who read her the works of Kipling, Dickens and Sir Walter Scott. This is in stark contrast with the children of Susan’s generation, whom she sees as interested in devouring only “comic strips and television”. While delivering this diatribe in a booming voice as other customers look on, Mrs. Weatherby is attacked by Timmy the Terror and his gang, who lower garlands of holly onto her head. In the melee that follows, Mrs. Weatherby’s hat is knocked off and crumpled, revealing that her hair is full of curlers and pins. Other customers, who have often been on the receiving end of the boisterous woman’s sharp tongue, are amused, but noting the children’s embarrassment, help her out of her turmoil. Storming out of the shop in anger, Mrs. Weatherby reiterates her allegation that Susan and the Carmichaels are unfit to run a book shop. Next day she returns and complains that in all the confusion she lost her brooch and is highly suspicious when the children tell her that it hasn’t been found. She then reports the matter to the police, claiming that the brooch is extremely valuable. It turns out that the brooch was lost at the theatre, and Susan finds it and takes it to Joe Taylor, the local policeman. However, when Joe telephones her and suggests a reward, Mrs. Weatherby claims that the brooch is only of sentimental value and offers only half a crown. Mrs. Weatherby, despite all of her moral lecturing and posturing, is not above trying to take advantage of a situation. At the theatre, when there is a huge mix up over seating, she claims that she has thrown her ticket stub away but that she was sure that her seat was in the middle of the third row. However, her husband steps in and says that their seats are actually in Row K and more to the side. Her husband is described as a mild little man, providing a comic contrast to his large, booming wife. Mrs. Weatherby is one of Jane Shaw’s most memorable characters, but only appears in one book. Although she is a little bit sinister and threatening, most of her appearances in the story are for comedic purposes and she is remembered fondly by many readers.