Retro Reads discussion

High Rising (Barsetshire, #1)
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Group Reads > High Rising May 2018 No spoilers thread

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Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 1748 comments Mod
Hi Everyone.

I have just got my laptop back, but it still isn't working properly so may have to go back to the shop. So frustrating.

Grateful thanks to the lovely Kim Kaso for posting me this book so I can lead the discussion. :) At this stage I am just going to use two threads - a spoiler & non spoiler one as this is quite a short book. We can add another thread if we find having only two threads is hampering our discussion. :)

This will be my first read of a Angela Thirkell & I'm really excited about it. My copy is a Virago with this cover High Rising by Angela Thirkell I think this cover is absolutely charming.

No open spoilers in this thread please. Use spoiler tags or post in the spoilers thread. We don't want to spoil a read for anyone!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 723 comments I love the opening scene with all the characters at the school! Makes me laugh out loud every time.


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 352 comments This is my first time reading Thirkell, and I have a copy from the library, and I also bought it for my kindle.

Here we go!


message 4: by Jackie (last edited Apr 30, 2018 07:12PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jackie | 401 comments this is my first reading of my first Thirkell and I have the same cover - looks like a lovely place to live and I want that luscious outfit.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 723 comments I am fortunate to have had a grandmother who adored Thirkell, so many but not all of the books on my Thirkell shelf are first American editions. I believe my copy of High Rising is one of those; in any case it’s an old hardcover.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1414 comments I acquired a used paperback Carol & Graf edition from England once I knew I wanted my own Thirkell collection. Nice, big print! I don’t see it among the cover choices here...


message 7: by Jackie (last edited May 01, 2018 08:52AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jackie | 401 comments Abigail, that is lucky - my local library doesn't have ANY. I am shocked and saddened by this.


Barb in Maryland | 499 comments I am among the first-time-reading-Thirkell group. I have a copy from the library that looks to have been well read by a number of people.
High Rising by Angela Thirkell

I've already read the first chapter and I think I'm going to have fun with this...


Hana | 1104 comments Mod
My copy just arrived and it has an introduction penned by Alexander McCall Smith, who is a contemporary author but one who writes with a Retro Read feel. His books regularly make on to my Cheering Potions list.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 1748 comments Mod
I'll be ready to start this evening. :)


message 11: by Liz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liz Treacher | 10 comments Hana wrote: "My copy just arrived and it has an introduction penned by Alexander McCall Smith, who is a contemporary author but one who writes with a Retro Read feel. His books regularly make on t..."

So does mine Hana and I like his work too, but I've only read his detective agency series. Can you recommend anything else by him?


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 1748 comments Mod
I don't think McCall Smith's introduction will prove to have added anything to the reading experience for me.

Thirkell has a real gift for writing dialogue! :)


debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 336 comments I might join. I need an audio for walks and this is available.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1414 comments Barb in Maryland wrote: "I am among the first-time-reading-Thirkell group. I have a copy from the library that looks to have been well read by a number of people.
High Rising by Angela Thirkell

I've already read the firs..."

Yay! I love how Thirkell writes children - not sentimental and treacly, but admitting you can love your children but sometimes feel like strangling them!


debbicat *made of stardust* (cr8zycat) | 336 comments Scratch that. I listened to the audio sample and don’t really care for the narrator. Enjoy! Not for me right now.


message 16: by Susan in NC (last edited May 02, 2018 01:23PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1414 comments Liz wrote: "Hana wrote: "My copy just arrived and it has an introduction penned by Alexander McCall Smith, who is a contemporary author but one who writes with a Retro Read feel. His books regula..."

Sorry to butt in, Liz, but I’ve read his Scotland Street books, great characters- and quirky Portuguese Irregular Verb books, great fun! Oh, and I read the first Isabel Dalhousie mystery, would like to get back to those.


message 17: by Liz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liz Treacher | 10 comments Thanks Susan, that's great. I'll try a Scotland Street one. I live in Scotland - not in Edinburgh, but I love visiting it.


Jackie | 401 comments Hana wrote: "My copy just arrived and it has an introduction penned by Alexander McCall Smith, who is a contemporary author but one who writes with a Retro Read feel. His books regularly make on t..."

thanks for reminding me, I deliberately didn't read the introduction because I wanted to get straight to the actual book on my first read but have been meaning to go back to it.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 1748 comments Mod
Susan in NC wrote: "
Ilove how Thirkell writes children - not sentimental and treacly, but admitting you can love your children but sometimes feel like strangling them! ..."


Oh this is so true!


Barb in Maryland | 499 comments I'm finally getting back to this. Dear sweet Tony! I know that kid and can totally get behind Laura's desire to murder him (no jury filled with mothers of talkative boys would ever convict her). So true to life--a far cry from some of the children in Victorian fiction.


message 21: by Liz (last edited May 04, 2018 08:05AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liz Treacher | 10 comments Barb in Maryland wrote: "I'm finally getting back to this. Dear sweet Tony! I know that kid and can totally get behind Laura's desire to murder him (no jury filled with mothers of talkative boys would ever convict her). So..."

I agree, Barb, but I also love that he turns into a Victorian cherub when he's asleep - with cheeks like "softest rose petal jelly" melting "upon the pillow." Reminds me of one of those old Pears soap adverts.


Barb in Maryland | 499 comments Liz--oh yes, that's what saves his life every time. I know I'm a sucker for the sleeping cherub look and I'd bet most mothers are, too.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 1748 comments Mod
I'm a third of the way in & the book is picking up for me now.


Barb in Maryland | 499 comments Well, here I am in Chapter 4 and the endemic anti-Semitism of the era rears its ugly head.
I should be used encountering this when reading books from the early 20Century, but it is never pleasant.


message 25: by Liz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liz Treacher | 10 comments Barb in Maryland wrote: "Well, here I am in Chapter 4 and the endemic anti-Semitism of the era rears its ugly head.
I should be used encountering this when reading books from the early 20Century, but it is never pleasant."


I agree. And I think the fact that the book was published in 1933 makes it even more unpleasant.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1414 comments Barb in Maryland wrote: "I'm finally getting back to this. Dear sweet Tony! I know that kid and can totally get behind Laura's desire to murder him (no jury filled with mothers of talkative boys would ever convict her). So..."

Yes, as the mother of a formerly talkative boy (oh, the hours spent discussing the merits of Thomas the Tank Engine trains, and later, Lego characters! Ok, and now members of the Marvel universe, none of whom I give a stink about, but at least he notices now when my eyes glaze over...)


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1414 comments Barb in Maryland wrote: "Liz--oh yes, that's what saves his life every time. I know I'm a sucker for the sleeping cherub look and I'd bet most mothers are, too."

Here, here - and mine has a 5 o’clock shadow when he sleeps( Italian on dear hubby’s side)...


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1414 comments Barb in Maryland wrote: "Well, here I am in Chapter 4 and the endemic anti-Semitism of the era rears its ugly head.
I should be used encountering this when reading books from the early 20Century, but it is never pleasant."


So true, never fails to feel like a slap on the forehead, does it?!


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 1748 comments Mod
I'm wondering if I missed it or if my edition has been sanitised. For me, still a pleasant read.


message 30: by Barb in Maryland (last edited May 07, 2018 06:32AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Barb in Maryland | 499 comments Carol ꧁꧂ wrote: "I'm wondering if I missed it or if my edition has been sanitised. For me, still a pleasant read."

You probably just missed it--easy enough to do. Just a few remarks regarding business success and physical appearance, but still...
(pages 54, 63 in the 1997 Carroll & Graf edition).

ETA: There are other casual remarks later in the book--nothing truly awful, but still annoying to this reader.


Barb in Maryland | 499 comments I have been having great fun with the titles of the various mysteries/horror stories that Laura reads at bedtime. I think my favorite so far is 'Bucket of Blood, or The Butcher's Revenge'.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 723 comments Love those too, Barb! There’s a lot of gentle spoofing of popular fiction and the literary life in general here. You get the sense Angela Thirkell was good at laughing at herself.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1414 comments Abigail wrote: "Love those too, Barb! There’s a lot of gentle spoofing of popular fiction and the literary life in general here. You get the sense Angela Thirkell was good at laughing at herself."

Yes - one of my favorite plot points of her books.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 1748 comments Mod
Barb in Maryland wrote: "Carol ꧁꧂ wrote: "I'm wondering if I missed it or if my edition has been sanitised. For me, still a pleasant read."

You probably just missed it--easy enough to do. Just a few remarks regarding busi..."


I went back & did find one of the remarks


Elinor | 209 comments I'm just getting started on this novel (for the second time) and yes, I love the description of how irritating yet lovable Laura finds her youngest boy. I recall the time my dear mother said thoughtfully: "You always LOVE your children, but sometimes you don't even LIKE them very much!"


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1414 comments Lol. Perfect!


message 37: by Karlyne (new)

Karlyne Landrum | 1964 comments I haven't got my copy yet, but since I do have a Thirkell on my shelves, The Brandons, I picked it up this morning and have been laughing myself silly. That's all - you can all go back to High Rising now.


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1414 comments Karlyne wrote: "I haven't got my copy yet, but since I do have a Thirkell on my shelves, The Brandons, I picked it up this morning and have been laughing myself silly. That's all - you can all go back to High Risi..."

Well, I’m glad you’re enjoying Thirkell’s style - all of the Barsetshire books are similar (and fun, I think!)


message 39: by Jackie (last edited May 08, 2018 02:55PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jackie | 401 comments is it best to read them in order?


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1414 comments I have - she adds new characters and it becomes unwieldy, and best to read in order. Google Angela Thirkell and there is a great website with synopses and character lists for all her books!


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 723 comments I’m told the Angela Thirkell Society in the USA also has great online resources identifying her literary references.


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 1748 comments Mod
I don't think this is a spoiler because mention of this comes so early in the book but I will spoiler it anyway (view spoiler)


Elinor | 209 comments Interesting! The definition of the male demon is dreadful, but perhaps a gentler interpretation would be “ the nightmare.”


Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 352 comments I just started and have finished the first two chapters - it feels like the author took a deep breath and then expelled all of the characters onto the pages as an introduction. My mind is still reeling a bit trying to remember who everyone is, and why certain people are introduced only very briefly.


Peggy (dandelion_cottage) | 272 comments I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading more Thirkell. (Plus I feel I should also read Trollope's Barsetshire books).


Susan in NC (susanncreader) | 1414 comments Peggy wrote: "I really enjoyed this and look forward to reading more Thirkell. (Plus I feel I should also read Trollope's Barsetshire books)."

Trollope’s Barsetshire series is delightful, I enjoyed it more than the Palliser series. Later on in the Thirkell series, we do meet more of the “descendants” of Trollope characters.


message 47: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
I also found the many characters a bit much to absorb in the first few chapters, especially since Thirkell switches frequently between first and second names. Somewhere around chapter four or five I was hooked and began to feel that I couldn't get enough of the village gossip and wonder which potential couples would be paired off by the end.


message 48: by Hana (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hana | 1104 comments Mod
The dialog is very amusing and I love how she captures each distinctive 'voice' from Laura's slightly absent-minded ramblings to George Knox's pompous soliloquies. Plenty of well-aimed shafts at literary pretension!


Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂  | 1748 comments Mod
Hana wrote: "The dialog is very amusing and I love how she captures each distinctive 'voice' from Laura's slightly absent-minded ramblings to George Knox's pompous soliloquies. Plenty of well-aimed shafts at li..."

Yes, the early dialogue is great.

This will be too late for most of you, but I have just read a few reviews & a few of them mention that the Moyer Bell edition (the one pictured at the top of this thread) is full of typos. If you haven't picked up a copy yet, it might be better to source another one. My Virago one was fine.


Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 723 comments I agree about all the characters coming at you in the early chapters. Opening the book at the school made me think the story was going to be a comedy about the teachers and students, and then it went off in a totally different direction. Still, I just sat back and enjoyed the humor till I found my feet.


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