Growing Up – Angela Thirkell

Angela Thirkell is probably not an author a lot of people read much today. She is someone I stumbled across in a thrift shop. The Headmistress was sitting there with a bright pink cover and I just couldn’t leave it there. I loved it from the beginning. Later I came to the realization that this one book belonged to a series of many. Angela published almost a book a year from 1930 to 1960 and most of her books, The Headmistress included, take place in the fictional English county of Barsetshire. Sound familiar? This is the county in which Anthony Trollope set many of his works and Angela has carried it on in her own sort of homage. Her comedy of manners and accounts of the social whirlwind, including the mundane and ordinary, are, I think, delightful.

Growing Up is one of my favourites so far. Set on the home front during WWII – and of course, written at the time – it is both funny and poignant. Beliers Priory, the home of Sir Harry and Lady Waring, has become a convalescent hospital now reside in the servants wing. Between soldiers and house guests and servants, the household bustles. Barsetshire is a respite from the world at large but war cannot always stand at bay – it is a period of growing up.

She truly has a keen eye for how people behave and keen ear for how people speak. You may see yourself in some of these encounters and exchanges.


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