August Folly by Angela Thirkell

From TheBookbag
Jump to: navigation, search


August Folly by Angela Thirkell

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A gentle, subtle satire about the lives of the upper and middle classes in the mid thirties. Highly recommended for lovers of Barbara Pym.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Virago
ISBN: 978-1844089680

Share on: Delicious Digg Facebook Reddit Stumbleupon Follow us on Twitter



Richard Tebben came down from Oxford in June with an undistinguished Third and little idea of what he wanted to do with himself. It was a pity that money dictated the need to remain in the Barsetshire village of Worsted (just a little way from Winter Overcotes) with his family and others who were not really up to scratch (his mother had taken a First...) particularly as there was little in the way of diversion other than Mrs Palmer's Greek play, into which everyone was roped willy-nilly. Then the Dean family arrived for the summer, impossibly glamorous and accompanied by six of their nine children and Richard was immediately smitten by Rachel Dean, mother of the family and more than twice his age.

The book was first published in 1936 and it perfectly captures that period between the wars, when life was somehow more leisured for those of a certain class and much less so for those born to serve. Unusually for books from this period which have stood the test of time there's no sense of impending war, no suggestion that all is not well with the world. These are halcyon days in an idyllic part of the country, written about by a woman with a literary and artistic heritage which could have been bettered by few and it shines through in her writing.

There's a gentle satire about August Folly with its subtle prods about aristocratic attitudes and middle-class aspirations, but essentially it's the story of the production of Euripides' Hyppolyta under the direction of Mrs Palmer, with many of the cast falling in love with one another, misunderstanding intentions and failing to be rational in a way that would not shame a Shakespearean comedy. Characterisation is brilliant - even where you might expect a group to merge into one. Part way through the book I did a mental headcount of the six Dean children who were staying for the summer and I found no difficulty in naming them all, in order and giving biographical details.

The story is balm for the nerves. If it wasn't for the elegant, polished writing you might even say that the plot is dull, but I found myself pulled into the life of the village, hoping for the best for the most unlikely of characters and smiling when a wish worked out. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If Angela Thirkell appeals then you will love Barabara Pym. For more from Thirkell, try Summer Half.

Buy August Folly by Angela Thirkell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy August Folly by Angela Thirkell at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy August Folly by Angela Thirkell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy August Folly by Angela Thirkell at Amazon.com.


Comments

Like to comment on this review?

Just send us an email and we'll put the best up on the site.