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The Brandons (Barsetshire #7)

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  411 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
This is one of Angela Thirkell's 13 novels set in Trollope's Barsetshire, and peopled with characters from the upper crust of society to the tyrants behind the green baize doors and the miscreants of Grumper's end. Here are the beautiful Mrs Brandon (before whom even the vicar blushes and stammers), fierce Aunt Sissie, the Italy-addicted Mrs Grant and many others. Old and ...more
Paperback, 358 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by Carroll & Graf Publishers (first published 1939)
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Feb 28, 2011 Tracey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, england, 4-star
Angela Thirkell is one of those writers whose books I believe I first came across at a library sale, and picked up primarily for Mom; she can be hard to find reading matter for sometimes, but a nice solid British novel from the thirties is usually a safe bet. I don't know if Mom liked this (probably) – but I did. It plunked me down in the middle of Angela Thirkell's Barteshire Novels, but the structure of the series seems to be very forgiving of this sort of thing. It worked for me, anyway.

Jul 25, 2016 Theresa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aunt Sissy is failing. Taking pleasure not only in baiting her relatives, Miss Brandon also seem to delight in keeping her niece-by-marraige, Lavinia Brandon and her children, Francis and Delia, on their toes.

Aunt Sissy seems to enjoy fostering resentment among her relatives with constant doom-and gloom references as to who will inherit her property. Dredging up a distant cousin, Hilary Grant, whom she includes in the family competition, backfires when Hilary actually becomes a family friend. T
Jul 06, 2012 Ellie rated it really liked it
I first heard of this book when we were in Seattle at a friend's house. This friend has rooms and rooms full of lots and lots (and LOTS) of various things--books, CDs, three pianos, even a stuffed bear head--he's not a hoarder, he's just a "collector." (Really. He sells most of the stuff. But then again he goes right out and gets more.) Anyway, my dad was poking around and he found this book, "The Brandons," at a rather prominent place on top of one of the stacks of books. My dad started reading ...more
Susan in NC
Jan 13, 2011 Susan in NC rated it it was amazing
I'm collecting and reading Angela Thirkell's Barsetshire books as I can find them, and I think I'm addicted - they never fail to make me smile, even laugh out loud. When her books first came out in the 1930's and '40's she was sometimes compared to Jane Austen for her humorous portrayals of everyday life and love among the country house set, although she wasn't considered in Austen's league - but then, who could be? On the jacket of one of her used books a reviewer says she's like Austen combine ...more
Feb 27, 2015 Veronica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A definite step up from Summer Half -- this is another family romp from Angela Thirkell, with a few familiar characters playing bit parts, notably the irrepressible Tony Morland and his mother, Lydia Keith (my favourite character in Summer Half), and the urbane Noel Merton. This time the very vague plot is built around the rich maiden aunt and her inheritance, but it really doesn't matter -- it's all about the relationships. How lovely that in the grimness of 1939 Thirkell could write such a flu ...more
Oct 03, 2012 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Jane Austen
Recommended to Leslie by: Joan Garland
Shelves: humor, british
I found that The Brandons reminded me of Jane Austen quite a bit more than the other Thirkell novels I've read... I think it was the romantic sub-plot (view spoiler)
Aug 19, 2015 Teri-k rated it really liked it
Thirkell writes amusing period-piece novels where not too much happens. Oh, people go on picnics, put on a village fete, or some old person eventually dies, but they're not books full of intriguing plots. They are full of men and women of all ages visiting, talking, and falling in and out of love. What makes her books so worth reading is the way she presents these people - as slightly silly, sometimes self-centered and other times bumbling - but always with affection. It's such a pleasure to rea ...more
Jun 20, 2009 Joy rated it really liked it
Men don't care that charming Mrs Brandon has teenaged children. She flirts captivatingly to keep herself amused, while she tries to arrange for her friends and family a life as comfortable as her own.

The current crisis is the last days of invalid Aunt Sissy, who has been threatening for years to leave her manor to a distant cousin instead of her Brandon nephew and niece. The manor is such a white elephant that the Brandons and the cousin, Hilary Grant, all hope that she won't leave it to them.

Hilary Tesh
Jun 26, 2016 Hilary Tesh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful book, funny and charming. Lavinia Brandon is an attractive widow who likes to keep the people around her happy with the least trouble to herself. This means seeming oblivious to the attentions of two besotted bachelors, offering to do the "right thing" but immediately regretting what this might mean and gliding serenely through life whilst mischievously - and apparently effortlessly - arriving at the best possible solutions for everyone. Some of the chapters are just plain funny - t ...more
Alisha Trenalone
A not quite middle-aged woman, Lavinia Brandon, has two more or less grown up children named Francis and Delia. Episodes in their life include a visit to an elderly aunt who may or may not leave Francis her estate (he doesn't want it), the arrival of a hitherto-unknown sort-of relative who also may or may not inherit (and also doesn't want it), the mysterious history of said aunt's companion and the local vicar, etc. There were, as usual for Angela Thirkell, some hilarious bits of dialogue and c ...more
And again Angela Thirkell has delivered a very amusing and very readable story. If three stars seem tepid praise: it's all me - not her!!! Unfortunately I didn't read the book in one go but a few pages here and a few there while on a trip to Israel, and what with all the distractions that beautiful, extraordinary country offers, I was unable to do it justice. Must reread it some day ...
P.S.: I feel so dense but I don't quite get the ending - (view spoiler)
Jun 10, 2014 Sarah rated it it was ok
I'm not sure I'll buy any other Thirkell novels: I was really struggling to get through "The Brandons". Margo Brooks sums it up best in her review below: "This silly little novel is really about nothing. The plot revolves around who among the unwilling heirs of an elderly lady will inherent her manor after her death." There are some funny satirical moments but, on the whole, nothing much really happens! Just tea parties, the vicarage fête, and everyone being nice and kind...
Nov 02, 2009 Bettie☯ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Flying on to Wanda
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Judy Bainbridge
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 18, 2017 Gypsi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lavinia Brandon, a beautiful widow with grown children, tries her hand at matchmaking in this delightful novel. Lavinia's young cousin, Hilary, falls victim to her charm, their Aunt Sissie tries to cause some exciterment over her will, and the village fête enlivens the residents. Old friends from previous Barsetshire novels play supporting roles, while the new characters are soon as dear as the old. As with all of Thirkell's novels, the Brandons (published in 1939) is amusing--often read-out-lou ...more
Laura Hughes
Sep 08, 2014 Laura Hughes rated it really liked it
Shelves: classy
This was the first Angela Thirkell I read. These books apparently take place in Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire universe (they're contemporary, though; Barshetshire sixty years later [incidentally, these books are about sixty years old now; we need a new Barsetshire writer!]) and while there are a few similar place and family names, I think the main thing that the books have in common with Trollope's is that that it's an expansive but limited world with the characters from one book showing up as ...more
Nov 03, 2015 Molly added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 23, 2011 Jocelyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Nothing much happens in this book -- just a bunch of social gatherings. Sort of like in most Angela Thirkell books. It's the characters that count, and how they interact. Some are stock Angela Thirkell characters, like the annoying and embarrassing mother. Previous incarnations include Mrs. Tebbins in August Folly, always economizing on food and therefore serving up atrocious meals, and Mrs. Rivers in Pomfret Towers who tries to organize her cousin's houseparty and set her daughter up to marry t ...more
Aug 20, 2016 Knitme23 rated it really liked it
I've read this one multiple times; it was one of the first Thirkells I've read, but it also fills a "what shall I read?" gap admirably. This novel has a bit more structure than some of hers (esp. her later ones, I think): the cast of characters and the plot focus are both tighter and more limited. We meet the Brandon family; the ailing wealthy aunt, Miss Brandon and her long-suffering companion, Miss Morris; the distant cousin Hilary Grant and his delightfully annoying mother; the patient, kind, ...more
The Hobbit
Jan 24, 2016 The Hobbit rated it it was ok
#7 in Barsetshire series. Lavinia Brandon is a wealthy widow who still sets hearts fluttering, be they ministers or young men her grown-son's age. Her son Francis and her daughter Delia and many of the characters are as shallow as Lavinia, making this a very difficult novel to get excited about. Not until Miss Morris, old Aunt Sissie Brandon's secretary and companion, enters the scene does the novel gain any momentum. The other characters realize how selfless Miss Morris is, dedicating herself t ...more
Oct 30, 2013 Wynne rated it really liked it
There are several love stories in this novel. Young love and "middle aged" love and flirting and general Barsetshire fun. Mrs. Brandon is an attractive widow who enjoys flirtation but is not interested in marriage. Noel Merton is a handsome barrister who visits from London. And here is Lydia Keith, graduated from her "beastly" school and living with her parents. These characters are favorites who appear in numerous other novels in the series. Sometimes they are featured, sometimes they just come ...more
Dec 05, 2015 Susan rated it really liked it
This was the first book I bought after my original (Jutland Cottage) drew me into the Barsetshire scene. It was described as a "favorite book" by several people in the reviews, so I tried it. It does not wear as well as many of her other novels, although it is still entertaining. It features another of Thirkell's "charming imbeciles", although this one is nowhere near as annoying as Lady Emily (who does not appear here, although her brother (?) Lord Pomfret does. The dominant love story here is ...more
Margo Brooks
Jan 10, 2013 Margo Brooks rated it liked it
This silly little novel is really about nothing. The plot revolves around who among the unwilling heirs of an elderly lady will inherent her manor after her death. It takes place over the course of only a week or two, and everyone involved bends over backwards not to inherent, while also maintaining decorum. The strength of the novel revolves around these relationships and the fun that people have being good to each other. It is quite sweet really and several times funny in a droll British way.
3.5 stars. After several similar books in a row, I can find it in me to wish that Thirkell wouldn't write quite so many scatterbrained characters, or re-use the same plot device so often (i.e. the naïve young man with a hopeless crush on an elegant, oblivious older woman). But sometimes a bit of cheerful frivolity is just what you need for a lazy weekend afternoon, and Thirkell fits that bill perfectly.
Gabi Coatsworth
Jul 26, 2011 Gabi Coatsworth rated it really liked it
I love Angela Thirkell's novels. Set in the Barsetshire of Anthony Trollope, they evoke the same world with an erudite irony and the occasional laugh-out-loud passage. This novel (1939) includes several scenes with writers who are trying to read their works in progress out loud, with hilarious results. As a writer myself, I thought those scenes were particularly amusing. Recommended for lovers of PG Wodehouse and Anthony Trollope
Dec 14, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: lit
Another of Thirkell's Barsetshire stories, where a great deal of not much happens. That sounds negative, but it makes up in charm what it lacks in plot. However, I did find this rather too similar to August Folly, especially regarding the lovely 'older' woman that everybody is devoted to. Still, a pleasant diversion, and Thirkell does have a way with describing English characters, both flawed and wonderful, that I love.
May 26, 2014 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-in-2014
Another charming visit to Anthony Trollope's fictional county of Barsetshire as re-imagined in a 1930s setting by Angela Thirkell. The Irish Times described her work as being like Nancy Mitford but middle class. If this is true, then it is that upper part of the middle class who could afford several servants and boarding schools for their children. I have found Thirkell warmer than Mitford. Her fiction is like "cosy crime" without the crime.
Jan 25, 2008 Holly rated it really liked it
I started reading this series of books by Angela Thirkell because of an op-ed piece by Verlyn Kinkenborg in the NYT. This was the first I read. It is delightful....sort of like an Edwardian Romance novel but, because times were of a more gentle nature then, without the steaminess and sliminess. The use of language, suggestion, gossip to create an atmosphere is, in my opinion, just wonderful. There are 33 books in the series and I'm going to work my way through them....
Jun 01, 2010 Alex rated it really liked it
The blurb on the backcover of the edition compares Thirkell to Wodehouse and Trollope. The second is pretty obvious. The first is misleading: Thirkell is if anything funnier, lacks Wodehouse's whimsy, but has considerably more psychological insight. I'd prefer to compare her writing and perception in this book to Booth Tarkington's Seventeen.
Caroline Owens
Jul 21, 2012 Caroline Owens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Delightfully fluffy little book about Brits during the 30s where almost nothing happens but tea-time. The writing is all gentle wit and any Anglophile should love it. I must admit, when I was half way through, I had some doubts b/c so LITTLE was happening I was getting a bit bored, but luckily it picked up a bit.
Apr 18, 2009 Gen rated it liked it
This book was silly,lighthearted and completely unbelievable. Also, it had no plot. Luckily, it was an easy and quick read that ended happily. It is supposed to be similar to P.G. Wodehouse's books, but it is, in my opinion, not at all. However, I still enjoyed it.
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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 29 books)
  • High Rising
  • Wild Strawberries
  • The Demon in the House
  • August Folly
  • Summer Half
  • Pomfret Towers
  • Before Lunch
  • Cheerfulness Breaks In
  • Northbridge Rectory
  • Marling Hall

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“I'm sorry to disturb you, madam,' said Nurse, 'but I thought I'd better speak to you. It's about Miss Delia's knickers' she continued, after a glance at the Vicar and a rapid decision that his cloth protected him. 'She really hasn't a pair fit to wear...” 0 likes
“That’s what I meant, phalanx,’ he repeated. ‘Phalanstère I expect you mean,’ said Tony Morland courteously, managing at the same time to put half a meringue away in one cheek like a monkey in his desire to impart information. ‘The theory of the phalanstère was begun and put into practice by Fourier, about 1832, but it was never much of a success. He wanted to organise society into bodies called phalanges, who were to live in phalanstère which were a square league. There is a lot more but you wouldn’t understand it. I know about it all because we did it last term.’ ‘I” 0 likes
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