Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Summer Half by Angela Thirkell

Front Cover

Here it is Tuesday and I am finished reading the second book in my Angela Thirkell Read-A-Thon which didn't go as quickly as I might have thought. But really, one cannot rush along Ms. Thirkell.

The goings on in Summer Half, which I didn't find quite as entertaining as August Folly, have to do with Southbridge, a boys public school (which is akin to our private school in America). Colin Keith has decided not to continue his studies to become a barrister and has taken a job as an assistant master at the school. The main cast of characters includes the headmaster Mr. Birkett; his oft-engaged daughter Rose and her fiance Philip Winter (who I wrote about yesterday); Colin's sisters Kate and the teenaged Lydia; housemaster Everard Carter; and, family friend and confirmed bachelor Noel Merton. Of course various others wander in and out of the story including Tony Morland, Mrs. Morland's son from High Rising

The plot of Summer Half is not important. Actually there isn't a complicated plot much past watching who ends up with whom in the romance department. As usual, it is all very amusing with many of Thirkell's asides, meanderings, and witty dialogue.

What I found most intriguing was reading about how the school was organized. And, that these boys all studied Ancient Greek and Latin. They translated Horace. One boy named his chameleon after Gibbon.  I doubt any students of today have ever heard of either. Or if they have, might think the names refer to a rock band.

Another interesting item is the occasional talk about the political climate of the day - this being published in 1937 leading up to World War II. Philip Winter is enamored with communism and is planning a trip to Russia. There is a mention of 'black shirts' (members of the British Union of Fascists) handing out pamphlets outside of a movie theater. These issues were apparently on Ms. Thirkell's, and the nation's, mind.

So now it is on to Pomfret Towers. I wonder what delights are in store for me there?


  1. Belle, I know what you mean about Angela Thirkell: some of her books go more slowly than you think.

    August Folly is one of my favorites, I only vaguely remember Summer Half, and I tried to reread Pomfret Towers recently but couldn't get through it. I love Thirkell and only wish our library carried her books, because I can't quite remember which I didn't read and would like to pick up some of the later ones.

    I'll have to get back to Thirkell: have I read Love at All Ages or What Did It Mean? God only knows...

    1. Kat, I am reading these three all in a row because they are collected in one omnibus. I think after Pomfret I will give Ms. Thirkell a short rest. I love that there are so many more to look forward to (especially the one you sent)! I am interested to see how she handled WWII.