This might be classed as a “Girl’s Own” novel; perhaps one for older girls/teens. Bearing in mind that girls in 1952, when the book was published, may have left school and be working at the age of 14 to 16. There is a light romance, a thwarted love affair and some small homilies on the importance of girls’ independence. All while another girl’s reputation is in danger of being lost when her name is linked with that of a known philanderer. Some things never change.
Belinda Travers is 25 and the family maid-of-all-work. Her father prefers his club to family life, mother is delicate (or so she says), older sister is trying to land a wealthy husband, and her older brother is a feckless wastrel. There is only her younger brother who is at all sympathetic with Belinda’s plight. But he is no use as he is merely a schoolboy working for his matric. But the worm turns, and Belinda is fed up of being at everyone’s beck and call, and only having 10 shillings a week to her name. So being an enterprising girl, she finds a Job. To her lower-middle-class mother, working as a baker in a cake shop is a dreadful come down, but happily Mr. Travers is shaken out of his complacency by realising he has shamefully neglected his children. The road to a happy family life is not an easy one. But eventually all is well, and Belinda lands a respectable proposal from a respectable young man.
The background characters are perhaps the most interesting. The cake shop’s opening is supervised by a spinster lady who runs a domestic science college. She gives Belinda a lot of very good advice the double standards that applied to the behaviour of women.
If I have a niggle about “Odd Girl Out” it is that someone was not doing their editing duties properly. At the beginning there is an old relative, Mrs Bellingham, a widow and older sister of Mr Travers. But in the last chapter she is referred to as Miss Bellingham, though still Mr Travers’ sister. Otherwise its a gentle story but with plenty for the young female reader to think about.