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Before Lunch (Barsetshire #8)

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  370 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
Middle-aged Catherine Middleton, married to an obtuse but endearing older man, is the still center of a swirl of two generations of gentry on the brink of WW II. The activities of youngsters and contemporaries go on around her and it is only gradually that one sees how, without conscious manipulation, nothing happens without her. The characters are subtly and humorously dr ...more
Published May 1st 2009 by Moyer Bell (first published 1939)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 12, 2016 Mary rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A delightful read.
Told with wit and charm.
If you ever need cheering up this one is perfect.
Who will end up with who I wonder?
I loved it!
Apr 13, 2013 Deb rated it really liked it
Poor Mrs Middleton....
Oct 03, 2012 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This entry in Thirkell's Barsetshire series is more bittersweet than the previous ones...
Not my favourite Thirkell, but still sweet and funny. I love Daphne and Cedric, Denis, Lilian, Cameron, even Lady Bond.
But poor Catherine Middleton!
(Never thought I'd ever write those words! ;))
I'll admit up front that I sometimes complain about books that don't have enough going on. Most novels require a fair amount of plot, I think, and some are very lacking. I wouldn't make that complaint about a Thirkell novel, however. In her novels not much happens, slowly, with humor and insight and great delight.

Take this book, for instance. The locals are upset about the proposed development of a certain plot of land, so they plan to protest. First they need to hold a meeting to organize the m
Jul 10, 2014 Ann rated it really liked it
Shelves: anglophilia
Angela Thirkell's pre-WW II novel explores the strange undercurrents that can exist between even the most civilized and reserved Britishers.

Mr. Middleton, a loquacious architect who likes to imagine himself a country squire in the weekend, is having his widowed sister and her two stepchildren Daphne and Denis as renters in the neighboring house. Mr. Middleton's long-term business associate, Mr. Cameron, is a frequent guest. Before long, all of them are deeply involved in county business, especi
Dana Loo
Aug 19, 2016 Dana Loo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classici
Troppo carini questi romanzi della Thirkell, ambientati in deliziose contee inglesi, ricchi di personaggi eccentrici, pittoreschi, british fino sl midollo, vivaci e comiche schermaglie verbali, vicende amorose. Insomma letture godibilissime per chi ama calarsi in atmosfere tipicamente inglesi ed estraniarsi un po' dalla realtà...
Alisha Trenalone
Mr. Middleton's sister Lilian Stonor and her stepchildren Daphne and Denis are coming to live next door for the summer.
Daphne soon finds herself the object of attentions from two men. C.W. Bond is a neighbor, a young man with extremely suitable prospects in life and good family. Alister Cameron is a much older man who nonetheless finds himself completely taken by Daphne. Stepmother Lilian frets over the situation, certain that Alister is going to get his heart broken. The fact that he is actuall
Jul 12, 2016 Karen marked it as to-read
* 1000 novels everyone must read: the definitive list: Comedy

Selected by the Guardian's Review team and a panel of expert judges, this list includes only novels – no memoirs, no short stories, no long poems – from any decade and in any language. Originally published in thematic supplements – love, crime, comedy, family and self, state of the nation, science fiction and fantasy, war and travel – they appear here for the first time.
Dec 05, 2015 Susan rated it liked it
This one has a lot more of the love stuff (including calf love) and a little less story outside the love angles. It does contain the story of Lord Bond and Pooker's Piece, which is referred to (in passing) in several of the other books. I didn't enjoy it as much as some of the others, because a lot of the humor is based on tiresome people's foibles, rather than being inherently funny. It is still an entertaining book, as they all are!
Jan 28, 2012 Jocelyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
In the beginning, you make a mental list of all the single characters and figure out who should wind up with whom. Then you follow them through their schedule of social events, where they meet and mingle with a set of funny characters, waiting to see whether they are going to get engaged to the right person by the end of the book. Fun, fun, fun.
Verity W
Not my favourite of the series but still a fun and amusing comedy of manners and society in inter war England. There's the reappearance of a few old friends from previous Barsetshire novels as well as a few new ones. I particularly enjoyed the state of warfare between Lord and his butler and the complicated tangle of relationships between step-children and their relatives and relatives friends.
Jo Crawford
Sep 29, 2016 Jo Crawford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-group
I read this for my first ever book group and I did really enjoy it. It reminded me of Blandings by Wodehouse a little and the rural pre WW2 setting was like the Cazalets. It had romance, agricultural fairs and committee meetings, who could ask for more. I hope I like the next book at book group as much :)
This was just a middling Thirkell novel for me. I loved the characters (as usual), and enjoyed seeing the return of many previous Thirkell characters, but something was lacking in the plot and story for me!
Feb 02, 2016 Anna_schtr rated it really liked it
One of the best, and saddest Angela Thirkell's. A bit of a midlife crisis, lots of stiff upper lip. And gentle humor. And that special brand of rather resigned love. This time the author goes just a bit deeper and perhaps reveals a little more about herself than in any other of her books.
Jun 19, 2016 Molly added it
if you're old fashioned, and need something reassuring to read in a stormy time, I recommend Angela Thirkell. Almost like heaven as described by the Talking Heads: nothing, nothing every happens. I love it.
The Hobbit
Not admitting their true feelings leads to confusion and anguish for young and old alike. Getting engaged to the wrong person could have been disastrous for the spirited Daphne, but all turns out right in the end.
Aug 15, 2015 Judy rated it really liked it
Probably the third time I've read this one. I read Thirkell to live in her world of High Risings, Winter Overcoates and Pomfret Madrigal. Her bullying Ladies and her sensitive loving long suffering wives. I see myself in all of them, well, except possibly Mr. Middleton, a huge bag of wind.
Jun 06, 2014 Florence rated it really liked it
Recommended to Florence by:
Shelves: fiction
Really like Angela Thirkell and wish I could find more of her books. British country life without the murder mystery.
Sonia Gensler
Listened to the audio. Charming, but not my favorite Thirkell. A bit slow going.
Sep 16, 2014 Faye rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was great fun! In the tradition of Cold Comfort Farm and many other great British satires it was full of farce, misadventure and falling for the wrong person.
Elena Richmond
Jan 03, 2012 Elena Richmond rated it it was amazing
This is my favorite Angela Thirkell, among her 25 or so, all of which I have read at least twice.
Vicki Steinberg
Jul 31, 2016 Vicki Steinberg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So English

Where are the American versions of Thirkell, Cadell, etc.? I'd love such an author but, obviously, the countries were too different to produce such works.
Katharine Holden
Apr 17, 2015 Katharine Holden rated it really liked it
Wonderful characters, even the ones you're glad you're not married to. The action committee meeting scene is classic -- I've been to neighborhood meetings just like that but with American accents.
Pip Jennings
Jul 17, 2016 Pip Jennings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great fun & very funny. Very much like E.F. Benson. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Aug 04, 2012 Dee rated it really liked it
Little Red Readinghood
Not one of her best novels. It took me a long time to plow through it. It does not have the spark some of her other books have.
Gayla Dalton
Mar 06, 2014 Gayla Dalton rated it really liked it
A good read
Feb 20, 2014 Lori rated it really liked 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 32 books)
  • High Rising
  • Wild Strawberries
  • The Demon in the House
  • August Folly
  • Summer Half
  • Pomfret Towers
  • The Brandons
  • Cheerfulness Breaks In
  • Northbridge Rectory
  • Marling Hall

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