One of the boarders who ate Mother's chicken every Sunday summed it up when he said, "I was told that in your house I'd have good food and some fun." They all had fun, and they all became part of the family -- Jeffrey, who lost his front teeth and won his independence, Rita Vlasak, who loved anything in pants, including Father, Miss Sally, who loved Miss Sally and cold cream, the Lathams, who bought a mine, and even the hell-bent-for-heaven Woolleys, who were sure God had sent the skunk to hide under the house because the family didn't go to church on Sunday. If you have room for some fun and old-fashioned enjoyment, Mother's sure to have room for you.
When Books Went to War kept mentioning this as one of the top books the troops liked and read aloud to each other in gales of laughter. I can see why. It kind of feels like Cheaper by the Dozen but is funny in a different way. It also touches on more adult themes, albeit in completely acceptable, subtle ways because this being told through the author's childhood memories and understanding. It makes you feel as if you are in on the jokes from an adult's view.
There is a whole chapter on what Mother fed the boarders and another on the way the family made their boarders part of the family. That must have felt like a wonderful touch of home to men in very difficult conditions. Other chapters were equally fun but managed to make the boarding house a window into unusual situations with twists you only read about in O'Henry stories like buying shares in a goldmine tracking a possible German spy, dealing with a millionaire's eccentric mother-in-law, and more.
I really enjoyed this and am considering tracking down a copy for my own library.