Angela Thirkell, “What Did It Mean?”

Published in 1954, What Did It Mean is Thirkell’s homage to the Coronation. It focuses on the Coronation festivities in Northbridge, and the comedy resides largely in observation of a group of volunteers mounting a theatrical production. Now that I think of it, E.F. Benson’s account in one of the Lucia novels provides the precedent though Benson is bitchier than Thirkell.  Pleasure in this one is diluted by Thirkell’s habit of repetition; if she tells us once she tells us six times about Noel Merton’s slight crush on Mrs. Brandon. Every time she brings two characters together she re-establishes their previous relationship. If you were talking to her, you’d say, “Yes, I remember that.” Tedious, but redeemed by the business in which young Lord Mellings performs with Aubrey Clover, Thirkell’s answer to Noel Coward.

About carolwallace

I spend most of my time writing and reading. Most recent publications: the reissue of "To Marry an English Lord,"one of the inspirations for "Downton Abbey," and the historical novel "Leaving Van Gogh." I am too cranky to belong to a book group but I love the book-blogging community.
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