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
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.
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!