Saturday, May 18, 2013

A Read-A-Thon Progress Report

Angela Thirkell is in her usual high spirits with August Folly. She has such an amusing way of introducing her characters. In the beginning of her story she may introduce a bunch of them all at once. She will give the reader their names and some telling detail or quirk about each one. Then she slowly doles out more details. I find it helpful to keep a cast of characters list.  

For instance, in the Dean family - one of the principal group of characters in this novel -  right away we become acquainted with certain members, brother Laurence and his sisters Helen and Betty. Immediately upon meeting Betty the reader learns that Betty is 18. Many pages pass before we are told that Helen is seven years older than Betty. OK, so that makes her 25. And, we were told when first introduced to Laurence that he was a year older than Helen but at that point we didn't know how old Helen was so that information was useless but now we can figure out that Laurence is 26. 


It is all quite fun adding these little bits and pieces. She does the same with names. For 25 pages she may refer to a character as Mrs. Tebben and then all of a sudden we learn that her first name is Winifred. 

This may irritate or confuse some readers, but I find it to be clever and enjoy adding - clues? - about each character to my list. 

And I bet she had fun naming the towns that run along the railway in this little tale. The opening sentences: 

The little village of Worsted, some sixty miles west of London, is still, owing to the very defective railway system which hardly attempts to serve it, to a great extent unspoilt. To reach it you must change at Winter Overcotes where two railway lines cross.

Then a passenger comes upon Shearing, Winter Underclose, Lambton, Fleece, and finally Woolram. 

I bet she was giggling to herself as she created those villages.

Unfortunately, I got a bit of a late start on my Thirkell Read-A-Thon and am not yet finished with August Folly. I was hoping to at least have it read by this afternoon, but somehow life intervened and I found I had a few other things to do but laze about with the book in my hands.

It doesn't matter. I am having a jolly good time.

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