Private Enterprise by Angela Thirkell

Where do I go when I want a bit of comfort reading? West Barsetshire circa 1947 of course courtesy of Angela Thirkell. In Private Enterprise we’re back hobnobbing in the homes of the Mertons and Brandons and all the well known families of the county, where the villages have names like Winter Underclose, Winter Overcotes, Eiderdown, Little Misfit and Worsted.

As ever they’re all bound together by a mutual hatred of the bishop and his wife and any strangers in their midst are regarded as ‘good eggs’ if they too have a dislike of everything to do with the bishop and his palace.

Mrs. Arbuthnot is a young widow who has come to live in the county and Colin thinks he’s in love and makes a nuisance of himself and a new vicar has arrived and is in need of a wife too.

Otherwise the talk is all of the Labour government and Them in general and food and clothes rationing is a hot topic with the government putting bread on the ration. World War II has been over for more than a year but living conditions are getting worse for the people of Britain. Any so called luxuries which are being made in Britain are being sold abroad to try to pay off the country’s debts. If you want to know more about rationing you can read about it here or see a video. It continued until 1954.

Does any of this remind you of anything?! The talk is all of austerity, austerity – just as it is now. I’m convinced that politicians of every type just want to control the general population and to that end they like to whip up consternation and panic, whether it’s about bread or as it is today – petrol.

Anyway, I’ve sort of strayed away from Private Enterprise, if you enjoy books about life in Britain in the 1940s then you’ll like this book. There’s plenty of humour and worldly wisdom and romance thrown in too.

6 thoughts on “Private Enterprise by Angela Thirkell

  1. I really enjoy this one (except for Noel being silly), with Col. the Rev. Crofts, and Miss Arbuthnot – and Mr Wickham with his endless supply of drink (I typed cornucopia at first, but that didn’t seem right for bottles).

    • Lisa,
      Oh I know, poor Lydia, Noel needed his legs smacked – or something. Yes I think both Mr Wickham and Miss Arbuthnot had a lucky escape, booze was obviously his first love. I quite like ‘cornucopia’ – horn of plenty was just what Mr Wickham had and I think he’d have no problem drinking out of one of those Victorian glass cornucopias!

  2. I still want to read Thirkell’s novels some day after enjoying her autobiography (which I’ll write about some day). I hate austerity and feeling like I have to be be frugal all the time and I really hate it when politicians tell me I need to be!

    • Anbolyn,
      Austerity is especially enraging when you just know that all of the politicians who lecture us about ‘pulling in our belts’ – are all living the high life and having a grand old time – with our money! I’ll have to read her autobiography, I’ll look forward to you writing about it.

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