2015: Two by Thirkell

So, after reading Wild Strawberries, I went to my (totally amazballs) Newton Public Library to see if they had any more Thirkell.  And in fact, they had SO MUCH Angela Thirkell - there are, like, twenty more books to read! So, if you aren't into British novels from the 1930's, you may need to find another blog to read.  I got two this week -

Ankle Deep

"To find oneself connected with a wrong number on the automatic exchange is so inevitable as not to be funny at all."

and

The Demon in the House

"When Tony Morland wasn't in school he lived with his mother in the country."

What's crazy about these two books, is how different they are - and how different they are from Wild Strawberries.  Strawberries was your basic 1920's stiff upper lip snooty British fluff  (which brother will she marry?) with a teeny bit of real human emotion put in - the parents being sad about the son lost in the War.  It was like whipped cream, and went down as smooth as silk.  Here we have Ankle Deep, which is a emotion heavy story of Anthea, an unhappily married woman, who falls in love with Valentine Ensor, an eligible man, during the two weeks she has left in England before she must return to Canada and her unsatisfactory life.  It's all about love and marriage and honor and whether men love more than women, and what happens when you've made a rotten choice and have to live with it.  And it's entertaining - first, to really examine the idea of what life was like back in the day when women had no choice but to get married, and often made bad decisions about their men.  Anthea's husband isn't even particularly awful - just wrong for her, but she's made her bed and must lie in it - particularly given that she has children that she loves.  And Thirkell does a nice job capturing all the emotion affiliated with falling in love, and not being able to act, and getting overwrought and all that jazz.  I mean - on one hand, this is a book about rich people with rich people problems - they have nothing else to do but flutter on about their personal lives.  But if you accept that, there is some good work capturing what those problems are like.  In other words, this is very much a "woman's novel of the 1920's" - but it's a pretty good one.  

The Demon in the House, on the other hand, is a domestic tale about a sort of dreadful 12 year old boy (false distinction - all 12 year boys are pretty dreadful).  It's about his scrapes and his adventures and how he drives his widowed mother to distraction and all the community around him.  Very stiff upper lip pukka sahib stuff - it's all about his prep school and his mate named Donk, and it's pretty grim going in that Tony is very obnoxious and I cannot say that I gave a patootie about his scrapes and such.  I kept reading because I was in a hospital waiting room.  AND YET - I cannot deny that Thirkell was very accomplished in writing an obnoxious scamp - he was very authentically obnoxious.  I can't say I'd recommend this one unless you are very interested in Dennis the Menace type stories, but I will keep reading Thirkell - if nothing else to see what the other books are like.  How many different genres of British popular novel will she be able to capture? And, I'm pretty sure characters are going to start repeating soon, which is always a fun thing.  I think you'd only like reading her work if, like me, you are already prone to enjoy this sort of thing, but I'll keep reading her, for sure, cause I can't get enough of these kind of books. 

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017