Northbridge Rectory is the tenth book in Angela Thirkell’s Barsetshire series and another reread for me, so I won’t repeat my review but simply provide the link to it. Instead I’ll comment on what I noticed this time through.
Everyone is much more actively involved in the war in this one, so it seems closer. Yet it seems far away, too, as we busy ourselves with the emotional lives of several characters.
I’m starting to notice Thirkell’s tropes, and one is for the infatuation of a young man for an older woman. In this case, it’s the young officer Mr. Holden for Mrs. Villars, the rector’s wife. Sometimes, these infatuations are handled sympathetically and in one case a few books ago, it was a mutual regard that added a bit of pathos to the plot. In this case, it is more comic, with Mrs. Villars not noticing at first or making herself respond in a practical way after feeling in herself a tendency to want to imitate the fragile flower that he thinks he worships. However, his comments about how tired she looks make her more and more irritated.
The other very touching story is the restrained love triangle of the two penniless scholars, the terrifying Miss Pemberton and the timid Mr. Downing, and the comfortable and warm Mrs. Turner. Miss Pemberton, who seems at first a grim bully with Mr. Downing under her thumb, turns out to have a much more sympathetic side.
I loved the depiction of Mrs. Turner’s nieces, Betty and “the other girl,” and their swains, Captain Topham and Mr. Grieves. And I don’t know how Thirkell does it, but even though Betty has as many verbal tics as the voluble Mrs. Spender, Betty seems delightful while Mrs. Spender is just plain irritating.
Not only am I finding these novels just as delightful as I go on, but I’m also finding them deeper (in a light way) and more touching. We get just a sentence about the (backwards spoiler for Cheerfulness Breaks In) survival of Lydia Merton’s husband at Dunkirk, since Thirkell with this book is dealing with other characters, but it cheered me right up.
5 thoughts on “Review 1828: #ThirkellBar! Northbridge Rectory”
Kay I have fallen behind this month and haven’t quite finished this one but have read your review and more or less agree with you. Will catch up in just a few more chapters. Thanks.
Still way behind, but here is the link to my review: