Lady Graham and her youngest daughter Edith are the main characters of Enter Sir Robert, set in post-World War II Barsetshire. Thirkell relates her novels as if she’s personally telling you a story, and although all the novels are set in Barsetshire, this one seems a little more rural than the others I’ve read recently. People are always running off to look at the pigs.
Lady Graham is a charming woman whom everyone loves, although she is a little scatter-brained. With most of her children married and her husband, Sir Robert, almost always away on some vital service to the nation, she has only Edith, who is 18, left at home.
Mrs. Halliday has an invitation for Edith. Her daughter Sylvia, who is expecting, is coming for a visit. Mrs. Halliday would like Edith to stay for a while to be company for Sylvia. Mrs. Halliday is taken up with Mr. Halliday, who is not well, and her son George has been working the farm as best he can alone. Meanwhile, Lady Graham is preparing a small memorial service for the anniversary of her own mother’s death.
Edith enjoys herself very much at the Halliday’s, visiting with Sylvia, entertaining Mr. Halliday, and viewing the farm with George, who seems to like her company. When the Hallidays all go to view the Old Manor House, which they have been leasing to a bank, they meet Mr. Cross, son of Lord Cross and also a delightful young man.
Like Thirkell’s other novels, Enter Sir Robert depicts the everyday life of the people of a certain social station with wit and humor. Her characters are mostly nice people, with only a few barbs directed at the bishop. The countryside is lovingly described, and there is always a little light romance. They are a pleasure to read. Oh, and if you care to read this one, you’ll find that the title is Thirkell’s little joke.