Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Christmas at High Rising - Angela Thirkell

It had occurred to me to save this book as a Christmas eve treat but I've never been very good at waiting for treats so I just read it. 'Christmas at High Rising' is a collection of 8 short stories originally published in a variety of places (but mostly Harper's Bazaar and Cornhill Magazine) between 1928 and 1942 and is most definitely a treat for Thirkell fans though it might be a bit baffling for anyone completely unfamiliar with her Barsetshire novels. 

That said I think the stand out story is 'Shakespeare Did Not Dine Out' (worth the price for this alone) which is basically a catalogue of all the horrible diner parties in Shakespeare's plays along with the suggestion that it might have been nice for him if he'd gotten out more, particularly to reasonably well regulated households with well trained servants. Thirkell makes it considerably funnier than I describe it. After that I'm rather a fan of Tony Moreland, especially when he's a hideously confidant child. Happily for me he features in several of the stories her. I wonder who his original was (surely there was a real Tony?), he reminds me somewhat of my brother at a similar age (thoroughly irritating with occasional glimpses of charm). 

The joy of the Tony stories is that they'll bear plenty of re-reads, especially the ones that have George Knox in as well - a single read isn't enough to unravel all the details, but it is enough to give a sense of the fun that Thirkell seems to be having with these stories and for me as the reader it's been fun too. I am more enthusiastic than ever about Thirkell - so here's hoping for plenty more Virago reprints. 


  1. My copy is slowing working its way across the Atlantic - or so I'm told. Hopefully it will get here in time for Christmas!

  2. I hope it does. It will make a lovely Christmas present to yourself :)

  3. Like Lisa, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my copy gets here before Christmas. This sounds like the perfect holiday book. I cannot wait to be reunited with Tony.