This is one of the books which I bought on our fairly recent road trip to England when I managed to buy four Thirkell books, three of them at the Cambridge market. I can’t remember if Ankle Deep was one of those ones, anyway I do know that I pounced on it thankful to get anything by Thirkell which I haven’t read. When I started reading it I was a bit shocked at the state of it because it’s an ex-library book from Enfield, London – of all places. I love books to be pristine, even after I’ve read them but my copy of Ankle Deep looks like it might be possible to get TB from it. It’s the sort of thing which I would normally handle with long tongs, but I steeled myself and dived into it.
This is the first novel which Thirkell wrote and to begin with I was a wee bit disappointed when I realised that this isn’t one of her Barsetshire books because I really do find those ones to be such a scream, but it wasn’t long before I found myself getting totally caught up in the world of
Fanny, Arthur, Valentine, Aurea et al.
Aurea is a young married woman who moved to Canada after her marriage but she has left her husband and children in Canada while she pays a visit to her parents in London. Aurea is not happy in Canada and is no longer in love with her husband so when she meets Valentine Ensor, a young divorced man about town who spends his time entertaining ‘charmers’ by the score, she falls for him in a big way, but it’s all very chaste and funny.
Fanny’s husband Arthur had been an old flame of Aurea’s and Fanny is determined to throw them together again, mainly so that she can play the field more thoroughly than usual, she normally has a string of admiring males tripping around her. She’s one of those life and soul of the party people, a flibbertigibbet if ever there was one. She plans to find a new wife for Valentine, despite the fact that she introduced him to his first wife, who turned out to be madly promiscuous.
Ankle Deep was published in 1933 and I think Angela Thirkell was really using her own ‘set’ as copy, I’m sure quite a few of her friends would have recognised each other and maybe not been too keen on their own portrayal in the book.
I hope if you fancy reading this book you’ll manage to get a copy which is a lot less manky than mine is. I’m not giving you a close view of it, I’m not that cruel but if you want you can see it second from the bottom of this pile, which was my book haul from our trip in October.