Tuesday, 28 July 2015

High Rising - Angela Thirkell

This was the first book that Angela Thirkell wrote, published in 1933.  It's a time and place long gone - upper middle class England, a few servants, and a different language.  But a lovely place to spend a wet afternoon, or a day in bed with, for there is something about the people in Thirkell's book(s), even when you don't like them!  Village gossip, people falling in love with people they didn't even guess they might love, the odd disagreeable bod who no-one likes.  If you are familiar with the Miss Julia books, by Ann B Ross set in Southern States of the USA, and Miss Julia's snobbery, her love of a little excitement even whilst complaining about it, and her detective work you may think "what is she talking about?  They are not at all the same"! and wonder why I liked this book  Well, a different world, a different place, a different time, but actually - it was Miss Julia who came into my mind when I was reading this.

Thirkell has a nice style, full of irony, her heroine a widowed mother of four boys, all but one having flown the coop writes books (oh joy!).  Not very good ones she thinks, but they sell well and pay her youngest son's school fees, pay for her little cottage (probably bigger than the house I live in  but I did say different times), her flat in London, and put food on the table.  She was obviously a great observer of folk, people come to life on these pages and you sort of recognise them all as people you have come across.  Short (275 pages) comforting (it all turns out right in the end) and entertaining (Alexander McCall Smith loves them!) It was a lovely little interlude for me and I am off to order the next in the series.   Also congratulations to Virago Modern Classics for the choice of cover designs -if they are all the same artist it's Mick Wiggins - hats off to you, Mr Wiggins, they are an absolute delight!
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