A few years ago I stumbled across the work of an English writer, Elizabeth Cadell. Born in India in 1903 of British parents, she grew up on the subcontinent and was educated there. She returned to England at some point, was married, had two children, and was widowed. According to the author herself, she grew bored with having to show up to work at a certain time and stay there until a certain before coming home. Her solution was to start writing so she could stay at home. Her first book, My Dear Aunt Flora, was published in 1946. After that she published another fifty-one books before her death in 1989. In 1960 she moved to Portugal and set a number of books in her adopted country.
She is known primarily as a writer of romance, but many of the books I've read (slightly less than 25% of her total output) are also mysteries of a sort. They are suffused with humor, often gentle, occasionally sharp. Her characters can be endearing, irritating, lovable, nasty, and obnoxious -- in other words, just like people around us every day. Of the dozen I've read so far, only one was vaguely disappointing, because I did find her usual characterization as sharp as in other books.
The first book I read was The Corner Shop (1966). The heroine, Lucille Abbey, runs a secretarial agency in London, and when an eccentric professor rejects three of her best workers, Lucille heads to Hampshire to find out what is so wrong with this man. He proves to be every bit as frustrating as her employees reported, but she sees him as a challenge -- one she has no doubt that she will eventually surmount. The situation is complicated by the mysterious disappearance of paintings the professor inherited, and by the appearance of a hysterical girl on the trail of a runaway fiance. The book is delightful and remains my favorite of those I've read so far.
Readers longing for a gentler read in this age of strife and upheaval will probably find much to enjoy in Cadell's work. The books have been out of print for some time, but her heirs are slowly making them available again in e-book and print. The Corner Shop is one of those now available again.