Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
Oh, how odious! The pompously verbose but good-hearted author George Knox has hired a loathsome new secretary who seems determined to manipulate him into marriage. This causes no end of trouble, irritating his good friend and fellow author Laura Morland. The lovely but quite happily widowed Mrs. Morland tries to set things right, but she’s often distracted by her energetic train-obsessed youngest son or her lovestruck publisher or the tribulations and/or celebrations of one of her fellow residents of High Rising.
Mrs. Morland thinks of herself as an author of good “bad” books--lively, highly popular but lowbrow stories set in the fashion world. Along with Laura Morland, who returns in several of Thirkell’s later books, other characters in High Rising include rambunctious children, loyal but opinionated servants, devoted secretaries who nevertheless have their own agendas, an unflappable schoolmaster's wife, an infatuated doctor, and several hopeful but undeclared lovers both young and old.
High Rising is the first of Angela Thirkell’s witty and entertaining Barsetshire novels, which borrow their fictional setting in the English countryside from Anthony Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire. Thrikell’s books are loosely connected stories with overlapping characters, most of them written at about the time they take place--in this case High Rising was set and written between the two world wars.
Thirkell may have seen herself as something of a Mrs. Morland. After leaving two husbands behind, Thirkell supported herself and her sons by writing a book a year, successful books that she felt compared unfavorably to her beloved Proust, Austen and Dickens and that she didn’t expect (or want) her cultured, well-educated friends to read. I, however, find her books great fun. No one can write diverting “lowbrow” literature like a classics-steeped highbrow author (see also Dorothy Sayers.)