Day 1093: Pomfret Towers

Cover for Pomfret TowersSomeone once remarked to me that the Angela Thirkell novels set before or during World War II are the best, and so it seems to me, reading this one. Pomfret Towers is set before the war.

Timid young Alice Barton is terrified when she learns she must accept an invitation for a weekend at Pomfret Towers along with her brother, Guy. Lady Pomfret is home on one of her infrequent visits from Italy, and Lord Pomfret wants some young people around to entertain her.

But she needn’t have worried: almost everyone is kind to Alice. Phoebe Rivers, a cousin of the family, has made sure Alice’s room is next to hers and helps her pick out her outfits for dinner. Alice’s good friends, Roddy and Sally Wicklow, are there, Roddy being the junior estate manager. Gillie Foster, Lord Pomfret’s heir, is extremely kind and fetches her shoes for her from the servants. Even Lord Pomfret, who is known for his rudeness, is kind.

One figure who continues to be terrifying is Mrs. Rivers, a best-selling author. Although Alice’s mother is also an author (a better one, we suspect), she is modest about it, unlike Mrs. Rivers, who constantly talks about herself and tries to arrange things for everyone, as if she were the hostess.

Another egoist is Julian Rivers, but Alice only sees how handsome he is and how wonderful he seems to be. His behavior is sometimes unusual, but he is an artist.

One of the things Mrs. Rivers is trying to manage is a marriage between her daughter Phoebe and Gillie Foster, but Gillie seems to prefer talking to Alice or working in the office with Sally. And Phoebe keeps running off with Guy to look at buildings he and his father are restoring.

Pomfret Towers is another romance by Angela Thirkell, full of delightful characters and slightly winking at society. This novel is one I particularly enjoyed. Alice is a little silly, but she is young and lovable, and we are sure everything will come out all right.

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7 thoughts on “Day 1093: Pomfret Towers

  1. My favorite characters in this one are Roddy and Sally Wicklow. Sally, of course, is the stock Thirkell strong female character–Lydia Merton and Susan Dean are two other favorites of mine–owarm, blunt, opinionated (in the best/funniest way), outgoing. I am so glad that she and Gilly got together, and, of course, that Roddy will be there for Anne.

    I find Alice somewhat annoying, not because she’s shy (because I was, too), but because she doesn’t even want to try to overcome it. I also found it annoying that she “fell” for Julian Winters when he was so obviously an egotistical jerk. Thirkell described him SO well. . .. I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by Phoebe’s kindness, because I had forebodings that she’d be another self-centered debutante. And I really couldn’t find any sympathy for Mrs. Rivers when Julian embarrassed her in Alice’s studio. Thirkell is like Heyer in that her characters are so well-drawn/delineated that it’s hard to find sympathy for the “bad guys.”

    I am aways ahead, and have just finished “Private Enterprise” and “Love Among the Ruins.” I think these are going to be my favorites in the series, because Thirkell is now a mature writer, and there’s so much more to these than the requisite romance. I ‘m getting an entirely different picture of wartime/postwar Great Britain than I’ve had. Sent me back to Rpbert Graves’s “Goodbye to all That.”

    Just a note: also revisited “A Civil Contract,” by Georgette Heyer. Another fine rich novel by a seasoned, mature author. . .

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