Friday, May 24, 2013

Three for the Weekend

A nice long weekend ahead and I plan on finishing up two library books - Pomfret Towers by Angela Thirkell and Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell. And, I downloaded Zoo Time by Howard Jacobson from the library's ebook collection which I hope to begin reading. 

Pomfret Towers is the name of the rather huge country home of Lord Pomfret and his semi-invalid wife. Here is how Ms. T describes it:

This pile, for no less a name is worthy of this vast medley of steep roofs, turrets, gables and chimney stacks, crowned by a Victorian clock tower, took four years to build and is said to have cost its owner first and last as many hundred thousand pounds.

It was computed, she writes, that an under footman might walk ten miles a day in the course of his duties.

Like I said, Huge.

The action takes place during a weekend house party (of which I am so fond). There are three sets of brothers and sisters in attendance: Alice and Guy Barton; Phoebe and Julian Rivers; and Sally and Roddy Wicklow. 

Also among the twenty or so guests is Mr. Foster who will eventually inherit the estate from Lord Pomfret, his uncle. 

The mothers of the first sets of siblings, Mrs. Barton and Mrs. Rivers, are both authors which gives Ms. Thirkell a chance to take a stab or two at writers and publishers and the economics of the book business. 

Alice Barton (age unknown but perhaps a young teenager) is terribly shy to the point of actually being a bit annoying. She has already fallen instantly in love with Julian Rivers who is an artist with dark hair, brooding eyes, and many affectations. 

Mrs. Rivers is the guest to be avoided as she is always trying to organize games for 'the young people' even though the young people are perfectly capable of entertaining themselves. Lord Pomfret is not exactly a warm and welcoming host and his only reason for having the party is to please his wife who for most of the time lives in Florence. 

With Ms. Thirkell's ability to mete out the telling detail, I feel as if I am at the house party myself with its well-set dining room table 
"stretching away to infinity, covered with what looked to Alice like six thousand shining knives and forks and spoons, and more carnations in more silver vases than she had ever seen in her life."

Or having tea in its smaller drawing-room "decorated with green brocade and hung with pictures bought by the sixth earl (father of the present earl) from contemporary artists. The furniture was in the highest style of pre-Raphaelite discomfort; sofas apparently hewn from solid blocks of wood and armchairs suited to no known human frame, both with thin velvet cushions of extreme hardness." 

I won't even try to guess which romances will blossom and wither and which ones will bloom for all time. I will leave that puzzle in the very capable hands of the author.

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