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The Headmistress (Barsetshire #13)

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  206 Ratings  ·  20 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 Derus
Dec 18, 2011 Richard Derus rated it liked it
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
Apr 02, 2017 Theresa rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-lit
Mrs. Belton is worried. And she has a lot to worry about. With three children serving in England’s wartime forces, plus a move from their country estate to the village (due to financial strictures), Mrs. Belton has a lot of adjusting to do.

“But gentleman-farming is no inheritance and by the time the war settled down upon the world the Beltons were living on overdrafts to an extent that even they found alarming, and two years later were unhappily making up their minds to sell a house and estate f
Susan in NC
Mar 01, 2013 Susan in NC rated it really liked it
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
Apr 21, 2012 Jocelyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Alisha Trenalone
Aug 08, 2013 Alisha Trenalone rated it liked it
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
Dec 31, 2014 Lorraine rated it liked it
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,
Jun 08, 2014 Mary rated it it was amazing
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.
Jennifer Heise
Sep 23, 2014 Jennifer Heise rated it really liked it
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.
Katharine Holden
May 10, 2015 Katharine Holden rated it it was ok
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
Apr 18, 2010 Sarah rated it liked it
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.
Jul 06, 2013 Katherine rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 17, 2013 Leslie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humor, british
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 :)
Dec 28, 2013 Katrina rated it really liked it
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.
Jan 17, 2011 Judy rated it really liked it
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.
Dec 09, 2013 Polly rated it really liked it
Delightful! Just the thing to read when one is lain low with the flu.
Nov 05, 2010 Caro rated it really liked it
Shelves: bed-books
(My edition is actually the Alfred A. Knopf 1945 hardcover, with an impressionistic sketch of the village on the cover.)
Silvia Cachia
Jul 04, 2014 Silvia Cachia rated it really liked it
Wonderful writer, great first title I read by Thirkell, and surely not my last.
Kim Leffler
Kim Leffler rated it it was amazing
Feb 08, 2008
Nightocelot rated it it was amazing
Sep 04, 2016
Linda Badcock
Linda Badcock rated it liked it
May 02, 2013
Bette rated it really liked it
Mar 24, 2009
Camille de Fleurville
Camille de Fleurville rated it really liked it
Oct 17, 2012
ABHITOSH KUMAR rated it really liked it
Dec 08, 2015
LDuchess rated it really liked it
Aug 28, 2010
Nerina rated it really liked it
May 08, 2012
Jenny rated it liked it
Jan 31, 2016
Natalya Hazzard
Natalya Hazzard rated it it was ok
Oct 21, 2015
Hoyadaisy rated it it was amazing
Jul 28, 2012
Stephanie Stennett
Stephanie Stennett rated it really liked it
Jul 12, 2016
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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
More about Angela Thirkell...

Other Books in the Series

Barsetshire (1 - 10 of 32 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

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