Christmas Book Review: High Rising by Angela Thirkell

HIgh Risings

This is the first of 3 Christmas book reviews I shall be posting during December.  I don’t know about you but reading Christmassy books helps me feel generally more Christmasssy.  ‘High Rising’ by Angela Thirkell is one I have recently read.

I’m not sure I had ever heard of Angela Thirkell prior to reading this, and I can’t pretend I wasn’t initially drawn to the pretty vintage cover.  I bought it at a time I was looking for something English and gentle to read and this seemed to fit the bill.  On reading the introduction written by Alexander McCall Smith I soon learnt, that in his opinion Angela Thirkell, although writing at the time of the likes of Barbara Pymm, did not (unfairly in his opinion) get nearly the same recognition.

This is the story of novelist and writer Laura Morland and her boisterous son Tony. The book opens with Laura attending Tony’s school to bring him home  to their country house in the village of High Rising for Christmas.  The village is the backdrop for the goings on of the characters that are all so woven into Laura’s life.  George Knox is a clever historical writer who unbeknown to him is being pursued for marriage by his scheming secretary.  Georges daughter is in love with Laura’s publisher and The village doctor is in love with the daughter of one of his most needy patients.  Laura seeks her self the task of saving George, and acting as matchmaker to the others.

Laura is scatty but clever, warm and caring. Although she has a certain means she is by no means overly wealthy and has admirably made her way through her writing. I loved her character and couldn’t help thinking what a wonderfully loyal and honest friend she would be.  Tony is loud and blunders through the novel, adding to the very English tone of the book.  He is large and as over excited as a puppy being both  funny and irritating all at the same time, and all in a typically school boyish way.

There are enough afternoon teas and sherry parties and dinners and country houses along side  wooing and misunderstandings in love and characters with secrets to satisfy anyone with a need for English gentility in their reading.  Their is also humour and fun through out the book making it for me an absolute joy to read.  I am so pleased to have discovered Angela Thirkell,  an author I have now readily added to my Christmas wish list.

This is not a wholly Christmas book as it goes beyond Christmas but a large enough chunk of the novel is set around Christmas and new year to make it a cheery festive read.  I wholeheartedly recommend it.

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