Saturday, January 15, 2011

Review: Cheerfulness Breaks In by Angela Thirkell

I do love Angela Thirkell's work, her imagined county of Barsetshire and the residents thereof. This is one of the first books in the extensive series to be set during World War II and as such it captures the feel of the early days of the war, at least as it was seen from rural village England. In this installment of the story, Rose Birkett finally gets married to the relief of her family who figured they'd have the care of her selfishly flighty self forever. Other village girls take up wartime efforts, working in local hospitals and caring for evacuee children while settling into engagements with the men so soon to be leaving. There's no muss, no fuss about the courtships or indeed the characters themselves.

Thirkell is an ace at portraying the British stiff upper lip so evident in times of stress and she pokes fun at many of her characters, having them lament the lack of good patients at the hospital and thrill at the thought of catastrophic injuries. She presents the London children in all their dirt and coarseness but makes it evident that the ladies of the village have no intention of facing reality in their dealings with the urchins. As the series reader has come to expect, Thirkell's biting wit is just as evident in this war time novel as it is in previous novels. Her characters are a delight with whom to spend time and the reader is easily engrossed in their daily lives. Thirkell is, as always, a writer of domestic fiction par excellence. A reading experience to savour, I look forward to the rest of the series, especially since this book in particular ends with a terrible cloud hanging over it (and enough information to know the outcome despite its perceived ambiguity). If you're not yet reading Thirkell's delightful books, why ever not?


  1. Oh! This series definitely looks like one for my shelves! Thanks for the review!


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