Love At All Ages by Angela Thirkell

Love at all Ages cover

Love At All Ages by Angela Thirkell was first published in 1959 and it’s everything that you would expect from a Thirkell book.

The government’s tax regime has caused the one time wealthy of the county of Barsetshire to have to economise, so most of the large houses have been rented out to private schools and various businesses. This sounds like a dire drop in their status but in truth they are all very pleased with the situation, most of them didn’t like the massive homes that were so uncomfortable, impossible to heat and the distances between kitchen and dining-room so vast that their food was always cold by the time it reached them.

This one features mainly the Pomfret and Towers families and as you would expect there are the usual hatches and matches all very satisfactory. Sadly this book doesn’t feature Mr Adams, one of my favourite characters although Mr Wickham is present, he’s a sort of one man booze supplier who feels an affinity with anyone with a similar fondness for the demon drink. (Kamarade!)

Editorially Thirkell’s books could be described as being a total mess. She rambles madly and goes off at tangents, but it’s all obviously contrived. She’s madly snobbish and she freely admitted to nicking stuff from many authors – Trollope and Dickens obviously, but I’ve just realised that she nicked things from E.F.Benson’s writing too. I read Trollope but avoid Dickens so I’m sure that I’m missing a lot of allusions to his writing, not that that would spoil the books for anyone. There are a couple of mistakes in this book, but by this time Thirkell herself was obviously getting confused with all the many inhabitants of her Barsetshire, something which she admitted within this book.

I do think that Thirkell’s best books are those that she wrote during and about World War 2 and the subsequent years when Britain was struggling under austerity and the never ending ration. It gave her so much scope to have rants against those who were in power and gives a window into life as it was lived and the changes in society, always entertaining and informative.

Several other readers have mentioned on Goodreads that Love At All Ages is the last in her Barsetshire series but I have Three Score Years and Ten which was published two years later. Although it was unfinished at her death, and was finished by C.A. Lejeune who apparently had often spoken of the characters with Angela Thirkell, so hopefully she was able to replicate the same atmosphere of the books. I intend to read it soon-ish.

8 thoughts on “Love At All Ages by Angela Thirkell

  1. I do love Thirkell. They are some of my comfort books. I agree that the books set during the war years are some of her best. My library used to have a huge selection of her books but, like so many older books, they have been weeded out. It is a pity. I have been slowly buying them as I find them.

    • Jennifer,
      I only found Thirkell about four or five years ago, through Joan @ Planet Joan, and she’s American! I worked in libraries in the 1970s and they didn’t even have her books then. I’ve been quite lucky at getting the books from second-hand bookshops over the years though, so most of mine are old copies, which I prefer.

  2. I’ve amassed quite a few of her books, but have only read one so far. I need to remedy that soon, but at least I have a friend who is borrowing and reading them so I don’t feel so guilty! Have you read the entire series?

    • Anbolyn,
      I think I only have that very last one still to read but I didn’t read them in order, just as I managed to find the books, so I intend to start reading them all again in order at some point. Maybe we could have a Thirkell readalong sometime, like you did with the Mary Stewart one.

  3. I, too, have only read High Rising, but I really liked it. I have collected some of Thirkell’s other titles, but I am wanting to read them in the order that she wrote them. Does that really matter? Just wondering.


    • Paula,
      I didn’t read them in order because I wanted to buy them from second-hand bookshops if possible so I just read them as I found them, but I intend to go back to the beginning and read them all in order. I think it’s always best to read a series in order if possible.

  4. Pingback: 20 Books of Summer Challenge | Pining for the West

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