20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on June 27, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I have loved Angela Thirkell for many years and was thrilled to see her novels appear in attractive trade editions. They are well-bound and the covers are appealing.
However -- the new editions are apparently scanned from the old and not proofed. There are innumerable extra commas and periods. There are sentences that bound from one line down to the next. There is even, in Wild Strawberries, a sentence that leaps from the end of one chapter to the first line of the next - thus spanning two pages. There are meaningless characters, letters, and numbers that appear as artifacts. There are many words that are misread in the process and the error changes the meaning of sentences.
I bought 4 books at once and this is true in every one of them - some much worse than others. The errors are distracting and sometimes annoying. There are just too many of them to ignore. As much as I like the look and feel of these new editions, I do not plan to spend more money on them and may return the 4 I bought.
But Thirkell is still a great read if you treasure a peaceful journey through known country.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 27, 2002
The divine Angela Thirkell, to my mind a latter-day Jane Austen, wrote her simply wonderful novels about upper-class village life in pre-war England, in a series of 40 or so novels that are simply irresistable. Her plots captured a time, a mind-set, and a way of life that is long gone, and in fact, her later novels, set just after the war, already reflected a desperate nostalgia for a never-to-return past.
Never mind, though, because "High Rising," one of the earliest of Thirkell's series, is a delight you won't soon forget. The plot centers, as always, on a blithering author whose high-piled hair is continually in disarray, often spewing hairpins at the most inappropriate of times. A widow, she has raised several strapping sons, and is now engaged in trying to educate her youngest, the irrepressible and impossibly boring 8-year-old, Tony. To do so, she must churn out novels, and to that end, she employs a secretary named Anne Todd. And so the plot begins.
Anne is a selfless creature who uncomplainingly cares for her ailing elderly mother, a task that is draining her almost to illness. But plucky pre-war Britishers of a certain class never complained, and neither does Anne. The plot thickens when a truly horrid gold-digger appears to become secretary to another author, and proceeds to wreak terrible havoc on this close-knit society. She is truly an "incubus," which becomes her secret nickname.
So. What will become of the incubus? Will she succeed in her nefarious plot to marry wealthy Geoffrey, a scholarly author who doesn't have a clue? If so, what of Geoffrey's teenaged daughter? Who will mind the dogs? Will High Rising (Tony's prep school) survive yet another class of noxious boys? Will the good village doctor, besotted by Anne, be successful in his gentlemanly courtship?
And most of all...can anyone resist this book??
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
It is good to see Angela Thirkell's light novels once more receiving attention, especially in the USA. "High Rising" is one of her first novels, dating from 1933. There were many English novelists in the 1930s who mined the traditionally English vein of gentle parody, graceful writing, mild absurdity, and class distinction. Much handsomer than most of them, and exhibiting the influence of Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope, Angela Thirkell peopled her novels with descendants of characters found in the latter's Barsetshire novels.
If that gives an idea of the flavor and style that might be enjoyed in her books, I can add that this one chronicles the dizzy doings of Laura Morland, a novelists, who juggles the demands of four sons, her publisher, her secretary, her formidable maid Stoker, and a friend George Knox whom most think should be more than a friend to her. The custom of "coming to tea" sets them all interacting. Watch for the number of verbs Angela Thirkell can employ - from plunge, to insinuate - to describe how characters can enter a room.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2010
High Rising is the first book in the Barsetshire series and it centers on Laura Morland, a widowed author who writes "good bad books" in order to support her family. After her husband's death, the mother of four boys decided to become a very successful author of second-rate books and in the course of time, she has managed to attract a large reading public with her entertaining books about the fashion industry in 1930s England. Thus, she leads a happy life with her youngest son and her hilarious housekeeper Stoker in High Rising where she often visits her quirky friends and neighbors. But her friends and neighbours are not the only ones who are comical. Laura's eight-year-old son Tony has a passion for trains and his love for trains often results in endless discourses about his objects of desire. Tony's speeches are often very exhausting and Laura is glad to meet with her friends in order to relax and talk about other matters. With her neighbor and friend George Knox, she can discuss her books since George is a fellow writer (although a very eccentric one). Nonetheless, Laura really enjoys his company and she also enjoys being surrounded by her other friends, including her secretary Anne Todd and her publisher Adrian Coates. Overall, Laura is really content with her life in High Rising and she loves its close-knit community, but everything changes when her friend George hires a new secretary. Miss Grey, or the "Incubus", is a very devoted secretary, but something just seems odd about her. When High Rising's residents begin to suspect that Miss Grey secretly intends to marry George, Laura tries to prevent this unthinkable thing from happening. Aided by her friends, Laura is eager to reveal Miss Grey's real intentions and to restore happiness in High Rising. But the "Incubus" doesn't seem to be Laura's only problem. She needs to take care of other things as well, including an anonymous letter, a drunken proposal and her attempt at matchmaking!
Set in pre-war Britain, High Rising gives the reader a glimpse into the entertaining world of English country society. Angela Thirkell manages to depict village life in such a witty and original way, making the reader smile and long for more. Her amusing characters will draw you in and you will begin to care deeply about each of them, as they are alluring with their little intrigues and problems. My favorite character was Laura's curious son Tony, since I found him hilarious with his obsession for trains and with his annoying questions. I also found his poems very entertaining and I had to smile whenever I read passages about Tony.
What I really like about High Rising is the fact that it concentrates more on dialogue and characterization, thus the plot takes a back seat. The book is full of wit and charm and I really enjoyed reading about these little funny stories concerning High Rising's residents. Angela Thirkell's novel captures a way of life that no longer exists and the reader will delight in exploring this ingenious world of rural England with its lovely and memorable characters.
I look forward to reading more novels by this great author and I
recommend this book to everyone who wants to read a funny book with a feel-good vibe!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 3, 2011
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I love the Barsetshire series. While this opener is by no means the strongest entry, it is quietly wonderful as are most if not all of Thirkell's books. However, this edition is appalling for its really very random punctuation and layout. There are needless commas and periods sprinkled at random throughout, plus the occasional misplaced quote or apostrophe. There are words hyphenated as for a line-break, nowhere near the end of a line; and paragraph breaks in the middle of sentences. At least once there appeared to be a few words left out entirely, though I hadn't a previous edition to check against.
These errors are frequent enough that if this were my introduction to Thirkell I might be quite put off. If this does happen to be your first work of hers, please be aware that these errors are by no means Thirkell's fault. They have been introduced through OCR or other transcription methods, and the publisher alone bears full responsibility for such a shoddy production. Most of the time it's not at all difficult to recognize the errors and read right past them; I only had difficulty occasionally where an unintended period fell right before a proper noun, so I thought at first the sentence really was intended to end there. Otherwise these things are just annoyances, and reason to avoid books by this publisher, but nothing against Angela Thirkell at all. Her work is excellent enough that if there are no other available editions, it's better to put up with the errors in these than to do without.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 5, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The poor quality of this edition is what prompts me to write a review. This edition is full of periods in the middle of sentences. There are other mistakes in it in spelling and with random commas (not just a use I don't agree with, but clearly mistakes). I was still able to enjoy the book, but the mistakes definitely detract. For a bargain-priced book it wouldn't be so annoying, but this is a full-priced paperback. It is nice to find new releases of this author. She has been recommended to me by many people whose opinions I value. I'm not fully crazy about her yet, but could see her growing on one. I just wish the book wasn't so full of mistakes!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2009
I was disappointed in High Rising. I have often heard of Thirkell as a successor to Trollope, carrying on the Barsetshire stories and characters. What I found was a bland, only mildly interesting (if that) story with predictable characters (except for the son, Tony, who talked trains incessantly and so dominated parts of the story as to make one long for the days when children were seen and NOT heard.
If there had been no attempted connection to Trollope, I might (except for the horrible condition of the text, see next paragraph) have given it two stars, but on the other hand, if there had been no attempted connection to Trollope, I would never have picked up the book in the first place, since that is the principal basis on which the book is pushed forward.
I read it in the Moyer Bell paperback, and entirely apart from the story, it was a horrible reading experience. The editing or proofreading of the book is abysmal. It reads like something which has been scanned and run through OCR and not corrected in any way. There were dozens (being conservative; I would more likely say hundreds) of misplaced punctuation marks, broken sentences, misspelled words, and other errata which were so distracting in their frequency as to make this a very unpleasant book to read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
High Rising is the first in a very long (31 books) series about the fictional place of Barsetshire, modeled on Trollope's books. High Rising is the story of Laura Morland, a widow and mother who is also the author of `good bad books." It follows Laura's story over the course of roughly a year, as she manages her career and boisterous youngest son, Tony, and witnesses the foibles of the town of High Rising and its environs.
The story itself is was good enough for me to read to the end, but I do feel as though Angela Thirkell doesn't quite have the comedic touch of DE Stevenson, or a knack for subtlety that Barbara Pym does. However, Thirkell is good at making her characters seem real, and immersing her readers in the world of Barsetshire. Laura Morland is a charming character, with her hair that's constantly falling out of its pins when she's consternated (which is often), or her fondness for lurid thrillers with titles such as The Winding Sheet of Blood. Equally well-defined is Laura's train-obsessed son; or Laura's pedantic neighbor, Gorge Knox, a writer himself. Angela Thirkell writes with her own unique, wry style of writing, and I enjoyed reading about the people she wrote about.
She's less skilled, however, at describing Barsetshire; but having not read Trollope's books, maybe I'm at a disadvantage here? As far as plot goes, not much "happens," but I loved the simple intrigues of her characters and the way that, in the end, everything works out happily. I have to say, though, that this particular edition is awful; grammatical errors abound, which sometimes got in the way of my enjoyment of the novel. Still, I hope that this is a fluke, and these errors will be ironed out before subsequent editions will be published. Also, the descriptions of some of the other books in the series, at the end of this book, are terrible; the writer even gets the order of them wrong. In all, though, this is a good book, and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Oh, how odious! The pompously verbose but good-hearted author George Knox has hired a loathsome new secretary who seems determined to manipulate him into marriage. This causes no end of trouble, irritating his good friend and fellow author Laura Morland. The lovely but quite happily widowed Mrs. Morland tries to set things right, but she’s often distracted by her energetic train-obsessed youngest son or her lovestruck publisher or the tribulations and/or celebrations of one of her fellow residents of High Rising.
Mrs. Morland thinks of herself as an author of good “bad” books--lively, highly popular but lowbrow stories set in the fashion world. Along with Laura Morland, who returns in several of Thirkell’s later books, other characters in High Rising include rambunctious children, loyal but opinionated servants, devoted secretaries who nevertheless have their own agendas, an unflappable schoolmaster's wife, an infatuated doctor, and several hopeful but undeclared lovers both young and old.
High Rising is the first of Angela Thirkell’s witty and entertaining Barsetshire novels, which borrow their fictional setting in the English countryside from Anthony Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire. Thrikell’s books are loosely connected stories with overlapping characters, most of them written at about the time they take place--in this case High Rising was set and written between the two world wars.
Thirkell may have seen herself as something of a Mrs. Morland. After leaving two husbands behind, Thirkell supported herself and her sons by writing a book a year, successful books that she felt compared unfavorably to her beloved Proust, Austen and Dickens and that she didn’t expect (or want) her cultured, well-educated friends to read. I, however, find her books great fun. No one can write diverting “lowbrow” literature like a classics-steeped highbrow author (see also Dorothy Sayers.)
I have a copy of the 1989 paperback from Carroll and Graff and did not notice the typos and bad editing some reviewers have mentioned--I think that must be one or more of the other editions.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2011
"High Rising" is the first of the many Barsetshire novels of Angela Thirkell published between 1933 and 1961. As many readers have pointed out, Thirkell's work is in the style of Jane Austin and Anthony Trollope, whom I believe she borrowed from freely for geography as well as style. First up, keep in mind, there won't be much plot and, what there is will be frequently interrupted by page after page of witty digressions. If that is going to bother you, look for a new author before you start and save yourself the frustration! Thirkell's style seems to be gentle humor, even though she does not ignore the reality of World Wars and their effects of the people she writes about, especially in the later books in this series. Keep in mind, she was writing for a different reading audience than our modern thriller/ beach book readers, as well as about a time that ended 50 years ago with the posthumous publication of her last book. I suspect that, even in her lifetime, her works were thought to be more idealized than factual; I doubt even British nobility could be quite as "stiff upper lip" as presented here and I certainly doubt that all those servants were quite as devoted as presented. Her characters are not particularly well rounded but they become likeable people who are pleasant to associate with as you read the novel. Thirkell puts words together well; her prose is witty and meant to be savored. These books make a great read after stressful periods in particular. If I ever get the chance to stay in an English manor house, one of the Barsetshire novels will definitely be in my luggage!