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The Headmistress (Barsetshire #13)

3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  151 ratings  ·  19 reviews
The Beltons of Harefield Park, in financial straits endemic to the times, have leased the ancestral home to the Hosier's Girls School whose headmistress, Miss Sparling, a cut above the 'nouveau riche' students, is welcomed into village society.
Published January 1st 1995 by Moyer Bell (first published 1944)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: A solid, happiness-inducing 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: In the midst of World War Two, the Beltons of Harefield Park find themselves "living on overdrafts to an extent that even they found alarming." It seems they may have to sell the family estate- for which, during wartime, there is little demand.Their prayers are answered, however, in the unlikely form of Miss Sparling, the dauntless headmistress of the recently evacuated Hoisers' Girls' Foundation School, who just happens to be l
I love Angela Thirkell's Barsetshire novels and am reading them in order as much as possible; each book is a delight, like visiting old friends. This book opens several years into the rationing, blackouts and hardships of World War II; the residents of Barsetshire are coping with stiff upper lips and dry humor, still enjoying the small pleasures of gossip at the occasional dinner or tea party with neighbors and anticipating visits home from children on leave.

The Beltons of Harefield Park fear th
"It has long been obvious to the meanest of our readers -- we allude to the one who asked the young lady at the library for a nice book and now wished she had got something diffrent, something really nice if you know what I mean -- that an author does not invent a lake with a spring under it and bring a band of hooligans out from Barchester at great waste of the country's petrol to try to crack the ice without intending to make someone fall in. This moment, as has been all too patent for some ti ...more
The first book I've read by this Angela Thirkell, I found at first it difficult to grasp with all the characters introduced in the first chapter. After sticking with it I found her storytelling to be charming. The cast of characters is truly what makes this book a gem.

Taking place in the fictional village of Barsetshire, England they are in midst of World War II. The central family are the Beltons and their three children who lease out their estate due to financial difficulties to Miss Sparling,
Katharine Holden
Unlike other other Thirkell novels, the characters in The Headmistress talk a lot about what class they are and what class other people are. And who has a bit of some better class in their distant background. And there's not only dislike for for female academics but disdain for female doctors as a group and for a particularly unbelievably written female doctor character. It's like Angela Thirkell forgot her usual deft way of drawing characters. Each one of the characterizations is belabored. A h ...more
One of Thirkell's best. She manages to convey a sense of how the war affects the citizens of an ordinary English village. A headmistress shepherds her students through several campus relocations; a landowner frets about the lack of resources to maintain his estate; a mother worries about her three grown children -- two enlisted sons and one daughter working a very important hush-hush job. Thirkell does it all with a splash of humor. The self-made factory-owner's clucking over his motherless daug ...more
Aug 16, 2013 Alisha rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
The Beltons, a family with two grown sons and one grown daughter, find themselves obliged to rent their house out to a girls' school while they live in a smaller house in town while hoping to recover their fortunes. The point of view shifts back and forth mainly between Mrs. Belton, a sensible, gracious woman trying desperately hard not to be too sentimental about her children as they face dangers inherent to their war work, and Miss Sparling, the headmistress of said girls' school. Style as ple ...more
Jennifer Heise
We meet Heather Adams here, and Mr. Adams whose word is as good as his bond also erupts upon the stage. The hapless Mrs. Updike, and the good solid Beltons. The headmistress does get her future tied up, fortunately, and we can be happy.
The best of hers so far that I've read.
This book is charming, witty with her world of cultivated gentry with terrific comedy of manners.
I loved it!
My second hand copy came from America as it's out of print which is such a shame.
It has the most stunning cover.
Mariana by Sir John Everett Millais.
Silvia Cachia
Wonderful writer, great first title I read by Thirkell, and surely not my last.
This is Jane Austen for the mid twentieth century. A terrific comedy of manners with sympathetic characters set in England in the waning years of World War Two, an interesting historical time. Although this novel was written in 1945, the human condition is pretty much the same so that even though the social conventions have changed dramatically, the inner thoughts of the characters and their relationships to each other still ring true and with a great deal of interest to the reader of today.
I liked it. Did not realize that although this book is a stand alone story it is best read in order of the "series". There are side characters and the town itself that are linked through the books even if the main characters and plot differ. Still, good read. Not quite as witty or entertaining as Wild Strawberries, but a unique read as it follows day-to-day life in a rural village in England during WWII.
This book, #13 in Thirkell's Barsetshire series, is a bit more of a stand-alone than the previous few... very little involvement of previous characters. I did enjoy the genealogical discourse early in the book about how two of the characters were related - one was descended from old Dr. Thorne who married an heiress, whose illegitimate niece married a Gresham whose sister was great grandmother of the other character!! Nice to see the Trollope connection :)
Another very enjoyable trip into wartime Barsetshire, this time focusing on the Belton family, but alao featuring Miss Sparling and 'the Pettinger' and a young Miss Adams as well as Sam of course. Comfort reading.
Re-reading A detailed and delicate portrait of what homelife was like in Britain during WWII. All the residents of Barsetshire County and their stories. You can really feel what it must have felt like to live then and have the world view of crumbling class structure.
(My edition is actually the Alfred A. Knopf 1945 hardcover, with an impressionistic sketch of the village on the cover.)
I should re-read this and the rest of Thirkell's books. I don't remember much about this one.
Good, but not as good as I had been led to expect by reviews. To each his or her own.
Delightful! Just the thing to read when one is lain low with the flu.
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Angela Margaret Mackail was born on January 30, 1890 at 27 Young Street, Kensington Square, London. Her grandfather was Sir Edward Burne-Jones the pre-Raphaelite painter and partner in the design firm of Morris and Company for whom he designed many stained glass windows - seven of which are in St Margaret's Church in Rottingdean, West Sussex. Her grandmother was Georgiana Macdonald, one of a prec ...more
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Other Books in the Series

Barsetshire (1 - 10 of 29 books)
  • High Rising
  • Wild Strawberries
  • The Demon in the House
  • August Folly
  • Summer Half
  • Pomfret Towers
  • The Brandons
  • Before Lunch
  • Cheerfulness Breaks In
  • Northbridge Rectory
High Rising Wild Strawberries The Brandons Pomfret Towers August Folly

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