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A Charming Read
on 1 March 2016
I think this is probably the first book by Angela Thirkell I have ever read, although it won’t be my last. A number of her books take place in the fictional Barsetshire, the county invented by Anthony Trollope, and this novel is one of these, first published in 1938.
As Lady Pomfret makes one of her rare visits to her husband and Pomfret Towers, so a weekend with guests is arranged. As well as the family there have been others invited as well. With the Earl of Pomfret having lost his son, Giles Foster is the son of the next heir apparent, although as Giles’ father is quite ill it looks like this will fall to Giles after the present Earl passes away. Going to spend the weekend are the young siblings of two families, the Wicklows and the Bartons, with Alice Barton very shy and not really looking forward to it.
This book works on more than one level, there is the easy reading of this and the elements of romance, comedy and satire that make up the story, but also this shows middle class aspirations and how some people are quite obnoxious, due to money or success. For instance we have Mrs Barton who is an author and is quite pleasant, contrasted with Mrs Rivers, another author, who is quite rude and domineering, but has no idea how to bring her children up. Mrs Rivers is also a composite figure as such, as there were still quite a few authors around who were successful writing the types of books that she does here.
With Alice we see someone who is out of their depth to a degree, as she does not know what to do and how things run in a country house, making a faux pas here and there. With some very unusual characters, such as Julian Rivers, and young love and the heart getting in the way of reason this does make for an enjoyable and easy read that should still appeal to many. The story just trips along and is undemanding meaning that this makes for a quiet, comfortable and cosy read.