2015: Two More Thirkell

“The Great Duke of Omnium, as is well known, not only disliked railways but refused to acknowlege their existence.”

Miss Bunting, Angela Thirkell

Beliers Priory, as all East Barsetshire knows, is a very large and unmitigatedly hideous house, the property of Sir Harry Waring.

Love Among the Ruins, Angela Thirkell

So these two Thirkell are much like the first one I ever read - The Old Bank House, all those years ago.  Like, I could basically cut and paste my review from before. Here, Thirkell is again writing about her huge imagined cast of characters in fictional Barsetshire (and even referencing Trollope characters, like Planty Pall - later Duke of Omnimum, which as someone who read the whole Palliser series I found totally charming). And she does a lovely job writing about human relations, and young love, and more mature love and all that jazz.  I really enjoy her characters, and actively rooted for the right people to end up in love (SPOILER - they mostly do).  

BUT OH MY LORD, she is such an appalling snob.  Both books are loaded with Tory rot, and about us versus them and what the Government is doing to destroy their way of life (we are talking post WWII here).  It’s such a drag.  I understand that people like her felt like this, but it’s hard to believe that enough people like that read books to keep her in business.  Because we aren’t just talking about looking down on the self made a la poor Mr. Sam Adams who is condescended to through about five books now, despite being a millionaire and a gem of a human - I wish he’d pop them all in the face, instead of knowing his natural place. We also doubt the mere middle class who has “only” lived in Barsetshire for generations but “aren’t really from here.” WHUT?

The plots are not really the point - Miss Bunting, which I liked better is about an older governess taking a young lady under her wing - and about whether Sam Adams’ daughter Heather can ever really be one of the set or is she too bourgeoise? But the little love stories are sweeter here.  Love Among the Ruins is ridiculously overwhelmed with the whole post war malaise, but I was rooting for Susan to make her match, which kept me going.  And it’s fun (especially because I totally read them out of order) to run into characters and think, now where did I see that one before.  But I don’t know - despite having taken more out of the library, I can’t whole heartedly recommend these.  Stick with Wild Strawberries, which was light as air (and then the characters came back in Love Among the Ruins), but you have to be a real sucker for these kind of books to deal with the nasty class prejudice - imagine what she’d think about me - an AMERICAN!!

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017