Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A classic from my TBR shelf...


I can't remember where I first heard about Angela Thirkell, but it was on someone's blog several years ago. And not just one person's blog. For awhile, it seemed like every other blog I followed was posting a review of one of Thirkell's novels. So, when I saw a copy of Growing Up in a used bookstore, I couldn't resist; I snapped it up, brought it home, promptly put it on a shelf .... and never got around to reading it. Until now.

Title:  Growing Up
Year:  1942
Place:  Barsetshire (Anthony Trollope's fictional English county)

Plot:  Sir Harry and Lady Waring's home is being used as a convalescent hospital for soldiers while they themselves live downstairs in the servant's quarters. A young military couple, Noel and Lydia Merton, come to lodge with them for a few months as does their niece, Leslie. And soon life at the Priory gets a little more complicated...and a little more fun. With wit and humor, Thirkell captures the struggle and uncertainty of the war years and deftly mixes it with the resilience and British good cheer of her main characters. There's even a little romance thrown in for good measure.

My thoughts:  This novel started off a little slow for me, but then I relaxed into the rhythm of Thirkell's writing and really started to enjoy her characters and their day-to-day happenings at Winter Overcotes. Lydia is delightfully charming; I loved the interaction between Sir Harry and his wife; and the uncertain romance between Leslie and Colonel Winter added another layer of fun. There were a few other characters I didn't love, but they only added to the eccentricities of life in a small English town. Growing Up reminded me a lot of a Barbara Pym novel with a hint of Elizabeth Gaskell added in.

Happy Reading!

P.S.  Since it was published in 1943, Growing Up fulfills the 20th Century Classic category in Karen's Back to the Classics Challenge. And since it came from my own TBR shelf, it also counts as a read for Lark's Backlist Reader Challenge. One book; two challenges. Gotta love that!



32 comments:

  1. Sounds like an enjoyable read :) I love British classics.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I'm so glad you enjoyed this! Lydia is one of my favorite characters in the series, first met as a loud opinionated schoolgirl who grows up into a delightful woman. Thirkell's books can be addictive :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. A TWOFER! Well done. I read Love Among the Ruins a few years ago not realizing it was part of a series. I enjoyed it but think I would have gotten much more out of it had I read the first 1-16 books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Lark, Glad you liked Growing Up and I plan to read my first Barbara Pym novel shortly. I have become interested in early to mid twentieth century women novelists. Virago and Persephone Press have done a good job bringing these authors back. I've got a few of these novelists in my TBR pile and I plan to read and blog about them this year.

      Delete
    2. Ruthiella--entering so late in a series can be a problem. I probably should have started with an earlier Thirkell... but this is the one I had on my shelf. :D

      Delete
    3. Kathy-- I'm happy that so many of these books are being reprinted. And I can't wait to hear about the ones you read this year. Hope you enjoy Barbara Pym! (Which one are you reading?)

      Delete
    4. Excellent Women. People say its her best and so I wanted to start there.

      Delete
    5. That one is my favorite!

      Delete
  4. Like you, I first heard of this author via blogs! I have a couple of her books on my shelves but haven't gotten to them. They sort of remind me of the Persephone books... Slices of life and sort of quiet books but exploring family dynamics, etc.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! That's a good description of this one. :)

      Delete
  5. This sounds like such a wonderful read! So glad to hear you enjoyed it! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Ashley! It's always nice to end up liking a book you bought on the spur of the moment. :)

      Delete
  6. I haven’t heard of this book, which is weird because I was forced to take SO MANY Brit Lit classes. Maybe it’s too new. Most of the stuff I was forced to read was from the 1700s or 1800s. I’m glad you liked it!

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This one's probably too recent for you to have run into in a Brit Lit class. But it's still a good one. :)

      Delete
  7. Like Iliana, my first knowledge of Thirkell was through blogs. I like the sound of this one and love the cover!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I still have yet to read my first Thirkell--you've inspired me. I like the pace and the setting/time period you've described in your review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, good. :) Let me know what one you end up reading and how you like it!

      Delete
  9. It's always fun to explore books through fellow bloggers, isn't it? I've not heard of this author but this book sounds like a delightful read. Will keep this book in mind should the mood calls for it. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think this is one book that you do definitely have to be in the mood for. :D

      Delete
  10. Never heard of this, but it sounds like a wonderful story with a bit of romance. I do love British historicals, so I'll have to keep this in mind next time I have a craving. Glad it was a hit, Lark! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a very British novel...which I do love to read once in awhile. :)

      Delete
  11. It is nice when you can use one book for two challenges. I have never heard of this author, but you have me curious about the book. It sounds like the kind of book that would be good for when you need to slow down a bit and lose yourself in someone else's life for awhile.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's a good description for this book. And it will also make you smile.

      Delete
  12. Hmmm. I haven't heard of this author, but the book sounds charming.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I know the name but haven't read any of her books. I didn't realize her vintage but it's a time period I really enjoy reading so will definitely look out for her books.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Give her a try! I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would. :)

      Delete
  14. I actually haven't heard of the author myself, but the book sounds cute. If she's similar to Elizabeth Gaskell, I'm sure I'll enjoy her as an author too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was an enjoyable read. I like books like this that are set in England and are more character-driven than fast-paced action. And it was funny, too. Thanks for commenting! :)

      Delete