Hamish Hamilton edition
Notes from the dust jacket of the 1941 novel Northbridge Rectory by Angela Thirkell.
In her latest book Mrs. Thirkell is, if we may so express ourselves, more Thirkell-ish than ever.
As escape from the war appears to be impossible, she continues her ” Barsetshire War Survey’ in a novel which has no hero and hardly a heroine.
Mrs. Villars, wife of the rector of Northbridge, is in a way the central figure and round the Rectory the activities of Northbridge swirl, but she has no story beyond being a good wife and an affectionate if detached mother, and if Lieutenant Holden of the Barsetshires, who was billeted on her, took to idealising her in an exhausting way, it was not her fault.
Roof-spotting from the church tower is probably a novelty in fiction, though the middle-aged ladies and gentlemen of Northbridge who undertake it, from Miss Crowder and Miss Hopgood who know “abroad” to Mr. Downing the authority on Provençal poetry, are far more concerned with their own daily life than with parachutists.
There is a middle-aged triangle of Mr. Downing, his redoubtable hostess Miss Pemberton and the hospitable Mrs. Turner at the Hollies, and a chorus of officers billeted at the Rectory, ladies with violent leanings to High or Broad church, and other village characters. In Mrs. Major Spender, who comes for two nights to the Rectory to see her husband, Mrs. Thirkell has given us one of her most devastating sketches of the good-natured egoist, and all her readers will be glad to hear that Betty, the girl who says “ackcherly,” actually finds her affinity in Captain Topham who likes racing and bird life.
In fact, cheerfulness goes on breaking in.