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The Brandons (Barsetshire #7)

3.97  ·  Rating Details  ·  369 Ratings  ·  43 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 December 31st 1996 by Carroll & Graf Pub (first published 1939)
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Tracey
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.

I've
...more
Veronica
May 04, 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
Susan in NC
Feb 13, 2012 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
Leslie
Oct 05, 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)
Teri-k
Sep 10, 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
Hilary Tesh
Jul 11, 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
Ellie
Jul 07, 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
Joy
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.

T
...more
Alisha
Mar 04, 2013 Alisha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
cloudyskye
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)
...more
Molly
Nov 03, 2015 Molly added it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Sarah
Oct 02, 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...
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
Susan
Dec 08, 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
Jocelyn
Jan 04, 2015 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
Elisabeth
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.
David
Jun 01, 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.
Jennifer
Dec 18, 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.
Wynne
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
Caro
Mar 20, 2016 Caro rated it really liked it
Shelves: bed-books, re-read
Interesting to see Mrs. Brandon when she was still a charmer, her beauty fades a bit in later books. Very funny and a good one to start with. I have probably read this five or six times in my life.
Sonia Gensler
The impending death of cranky old Aunt Lavinia causes drama within the Brandon household. Leisurely paced and very amusing.
Jonquil
Aug 28, 2015 Jonquil rated it really liked it
Light, enjoyable. Perfect beach read, except that the end felt a little abrupt to me. I like to have everything spelled out...
Mary Taitt
Apr 25, 2016 Mary Taitt rated it really liked it
It was very fun, fun, enjoyable. Light reading, humorous and satisfying.
Katharine Holden
Apr 17, 2015 Katharine Holden rated it liked it
Not fond of Mrs. Brandon, or her children. Best character is the rector.
Abigail
May 26, 2014 Abigail rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just delightful! This may be my favorite Thirkell so far. And I love these new Virago editions -- gorgeous covers!
Margo Brooks
Jan 19, 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.
Michael Tweed
Feb 21, 2015 Michael Tweed rated it really liked it
Lovely stylish tale of a bygone era.
Holly
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....
Gabi Coatsworth
Sep 13, 2013 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
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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
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