The Brandons is replete with youthful nonsense and middle-aged folly. People will fall in love with the wrong person, and all are determined to misunderstand each other. The Brandons and their friends and servants are irresistible. This is the gentlest of social satire.
©1939 Angela Thirkell; (P)2002 Blackstone Audiobooks
If you enjoy this genre of novel, then you will quite like this one.
It is sly, charming and earnest, and the characters are immensely likeable.
It is very refreshing to enter this world and Nadia May's reading is superb, as always.
Nadia May as usual, performs this work as if she had wrote it and knows exactly how each character should sound. She enthusiastically joins in with Angela Thirkell's obviously Dickens and Trollope fun with the names of characters and places. The story is glowingly playful and absolutely takes a serious look at love affairs, mildly broken hearts and other general foolishness. Having only read (listened to) one previous Thirkell novel "Before Lunch", a delightful snack of a book, I have just begun to get an idea of the style of her writing. I only bought "Before Lunch" because Nadia May was the narrator; in the 30 or so books narrated by her that I have bought, I have yet to be lead wrong by her tastes to date. The author takes enjoyment in fingering an occasional Trollope character or place and plopping them down in the middle of her stories. It seems like a little joke she shares with the reader. Heck, I think she stole his entire imaginary county: a bold move for a bold woman and wonderful writer. A person who doesn't enjoy this book should look to the mirror for a reason.
Having exhausted the Audible library of works by P.G. Wodehouse and E.F. Benson, I was in search of work of the same ilk--light and witty with an undercurrent of observation and some trenchant social commentary.
In a search for works read by Nadia May--who captures so perfectly the tone of Benson and Saki in recordings already in my library--I came across Angela Thirkell, described thus by Audible:
"Like Barbara Pym, E.F. Benson, and, mother of them all, Jane Austen, Angela Thirkell has created a small world of her own in the English countryside. Calf-love, village affairs, and literary effort are her nominal subjects, while people at their imperfect best are her real subjects."
This seemed perfectly to capture the kind of work for which I was looking, and I eagerly downloaded 'The Brandons'.
'The Brandons' proved to be a well-written and wryly funny novel, full of endearing characters and some amusing--even some laugh-out-loud--moments.
True to form, Nadia May is a wonderful narrator, giving color and character to each of the characters, and reading with impeccable finesse.
I look forward to exploring more of Thirkell's work. My only caveat to propspective listeners is that Thirkell's work lacks the bite of Benson, Wodehouse or Saki. Could it be that it takes an Edwardian gay man to add that bit of malice to the story that provides spice? Thirkell does not shy away from darker shadings, but the characters in 'The Brandons, largely, are sweetly good-natured, motivated by a desire to do good. Benson's Miss Mapp or Wodehouse's Aunt Agatha would make mincemeat of these country mice in short order.
Lifelong voracious reader/listener. British humor: Austen, EF Benson, Wodehouse, Gaiman, Holt, Pratchett. Courtroom crime and chick lit.
Hilarious, evocative, and delicious. I'd never read any Thirkell before and now I can't find her fast enough! Funnier than Dickens, as incisive as Austen. I wanted to take the Brandons and introduce them to all the characters of P.G. Wodehouse and E.F. Benson for a gorgeous literary mashup.
Angela Thirkell is a prime writer of sarcasim with a gentle touch. Her Barsetshire series, which takes readers to England to meet the decendants of Anthony Trollope's characters are a joy to read, and Nadia May does a perfect job of transfoming Thirkell's words into sound. As I enjoy the entire series, I hope that Audible will make more titles by this author available, starting with those set pre-WWII, such as Wild Strawberries and Pomfret Towers, and continuing with the books set during WWII, like Growing Up and Northbridge Rectory.
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