The Duke’s Daughter by Angela Thirkell

After watching all the horrible things which have been happening in the news from all corners of the world, I was in dire need of some light-hearted reading to take my mind off it all. This book fitted the bill perfectly and although I sometimes had a bit of difficulty keeping all the characters straight in my mind, especially when people who featured in earlier books are mentioned, I still found it really enjoyable.

This book was first published in 1951 and the upper class inhabitants of the county of Barsetshire are still grumbling about Them – by which is meant the Labour government of the day which seemed to be spending all of its time thinking up ways to tax the supposedly wealthier members of the poulation. Death Duties are a big worry to those who have money and the rest of them would no doubt like to have the luxury of having so much money that they had to worry about how much was going to be paid over to the government on their death!

As ever Angela Thirkell has purloined bits from various classic authors, most notably Anthony Trollope and Jane Austen and set it in her own time.

In this one there are quite a few characters being paired up at the end, to everybody’s satisfaction, and some of the more ghastly characters are nicely snubbed. I’m reading these books as I find them so not always in the correct order which is a wee bit annoying but I intend to read them again when I get the full set. No doubt the news won’t be any better then, whenever that may be.

I found this book in an antique centre, very reasonably priced and it’s a first edition, not that I’m ever bothered with that, but it does have the original dust jacket, a bit tatty, but it has comments on the back from luminaries of the time, a couple of them I haven’t heard of but here are a few of the comments.

‘Grace, wit, equanimity and engaging narrative power… if the social historian of the future does not refer to this writer’s novels, he will not know his business.’ – Elizabeth Bowen.

‘Mrs Thirkell possesses to a high degree the gift of making characters spring to life. She is often both witty and shrewd… she has a most observant, and often an attractively wicked, eye.’- C.P. Snow

I’ll just add – Angela Thirkell is well worth reading!