This book was first published in 1949 so we’re still in the middle of food shortages and rationing despite the fact that the war has been over for three years. Food is often a topic of conversation but the inhabitants of Edgewood still seem to manage to do quite a lot of entertaining. For me, as this was my ‘book at bedtime’ it was quite confusing at times. I think Angela Thirkell is an author who quite uniquely has several characters in her books with the same names or variations on the theme, so it can be confusing, specially if you’re tired. She was being really too true to life as at the time she was writing it was common for new babies to be called after a favourite relative or friend, as everyone in my family was. I could really have been doing with a list of characters and their connection to other characters at the beginning because it was almost as bad as War and Peace, some characters are known by three names or titles, depending on who is with them at the time and it was a wee while before I had them all straight in my head again. It doesn’t help that I’m reading the books out of order as I haven’t managed to find them all yet.
I did enjoy the book though, technically it might not be the best writing style, at times she rambles like crazy but it all adds to the charm. Thirkell shamelessly nicks ideas and even dialogue from the classics, you could play a game with it all – spot the quote – but after all, there’s nothing new under the sun!
As ever, there are people to be paired off but I think the most important part of the book is the acceptance of Sam Adams as a force for good in the town. He may not have been one of their sort and frankly a bit common on the outside but he learns fast and beneath all his loud bluster there lives a sensitive and kind soul.
In fact I find just about all of the characters to be recognisable, which makes me wonder if anyone recognised themselves in these books as it seems clear that Thirkell must have used her friends, family and neighbours as copy. There are so many bits in this book which I’ve heard people say or said myself, or felt. One person says when his mother dies that it’s strange being on the front line now, a feeling that we all have I’m sure when we are ‘orphaned’ no matter what age we are.
Mr Macpherson, Martin’s land agent features in this book, speaking broad Scots which Thirkell manages to write very well, and that isn’t an easy thing to do. However she did have the advantage of a Scottish father and presumably grandparents too. Her first husband must have been of Scottish descent too, being a McInnes. The author Colin McInnes was her son. In fact it’s quite a surprise to me that Angela Thirkell isn’t claimed as a Scottish author herself. Oh all right, I’ll claim her as a Scot anyway.