Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Growing Up - Angela Thirkell
I've read sixteen of Thirkell's books. I love them, but I love them so much that it's taken me years to read this many. They're the kind of book I save for a rainy day. It's raining today, so maybe I should start another one immediately.
It is probably best to read her Barsetshire Chronicles books in order. I've tried my best, but when I started reading them back in the 1990s, they were difficult to find. Now many of them have been reprinted. There is a character progression in the books and her characters grow up.
Tony Moreland, son of a best-selling author of potboilers (a lovely character herself), was an inquisitive, self-assured child who was obsessed with trains in prior books. In Growing Up, he's an officer in the military. Lydia Merton, her married name, found love in a previous book and happiness in her marriage in this one. She has gone from a loud tom-boy sort to a more tempered young woman. Her brother is in the military, though, and she worries about him.
Leslie Waring often doesn't hear from her brother and she is anxious for his safety. Sir Harry and Lady Waring, Leslie's aunt and uncle, have lost their son at war. Leslie is staying with them after suffering a breakdown from overwork at her important war job. It's a hard time for most people and everyone seems to suffer in one way or another. Leslie falls in love and the course of love is not smooth.
But not everything is grim. There's much mild day to day humor. There's romance all around. Selina, the ditzy maid, is pursued by several men and is constantly dissolving into tears of sadness or joy. And, this being a Thirkell book, everyone ends up with the proper partner and the home they desire.
It's a comforting, light read. Thirkell was an interesting woman. She was Scottish, her father was the Oxford professor of poetry in the early 1900s and her mother was the daughter of the painter Edward Burne-Jones. Rudyard Kipling and Stanley Baldwin were her cousins once removed. It must have been an interesting household.