©1939 Angela Thirkell; (P)2002 by Blackstone Audiobooks
"Thirkell packages history as a light romantic comedy, with time, place and social relations beautifully detailed. Her characters are well developed, perceptive and humorous. May's elegant voice suits the material well, and her reading, as usual, is excellent." (KLIATT)
Angela Thirkell's style was all her own. I think that she, like Jane Austen wrote to entertain. Her subject matter was courtship and marriage. She reveled; she wallowed naked in human foibles and follies. There is almost nothing serious here at least superficially. However, the events are absolutely historical and researched within an inch of their lives. She is a delight. If new to Thirkell, "The Brandons" or "Before Lunch" would be a better introduction. This is a terrific book and could Nadia May do any less than a fabulous job as narrator?
While trying to pin this story down, it finally came to me that Angela Thirkell was channeling Austen when she wrote this book. Like "Northanger Abbey", "Coronation Summer" is a book about books. "Northanger Abbey" poked gentle fun at gothic novels such as "The Mysteries of Udolpho" by Mrs. Ann Radcliffe. Thirkell sprinkles in Victorian books of her day, some not much different from works in the Northanger Canon. The styles are a bit different but the essence is the same. Compared to selections in the women's section at Books a Million, this book is up to date.
Returning to Austen, what would the courtship of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Catherine Morland look like? "Coronation Summer" nails it. Fanny Harcourt is a sweet, na?ve young lady named for her father's favorite pointer. Like Catherine, she goes to the big city for adventure and for, must I say it, a husband. In spite of all the gnashing of teeth, bra burnings and shrill cackles of the feminists, there remains one great truth: men want sex; women want marriage. Of course today, women get much less marriage while men get much more sex. Ah yes, the women's movement. Fanny, like Catherine fell for a totally fascinating man, in her case, Mr Henry Darnley. His actions as hero rescuing the heroine distressed by the ruin of her family compare with Darcy in action on behalf of Elizabeth.
Well, Nadia May and Angela T. are a great combo, so I had high expectations for this unusual piece of Thirkell's work. CS is not about Barsetshire per se (I haven't had a chance to dig back and see what links exist), but the usual chatty voice and "much ado about nothing" approach are present. The social information is fascinating, but there are big plot gaps: the Ingoldsby Legends idea, with a long poem in Irish (?) dialect supposedly written by the Ingoldsby's groom. . . . What was that all about? Some of the more entertaining pieces are the sisterly exchanges and infighting between Fanny and Emily, and Thirkell's gleeful presentation of a biased narrator. All in all, not what I expected, but a pleasant outing.
A DIFFERENT NARRATOR
THE NARRATOR WAS SPEED READING. IT WAS AS IF SHE HAD A SMALL AMOUNT OF TIME IN WHICH TO CRAM THE READING OF THE BOOK. SHE HAD AN ACCENT, WHICH WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE IF SHE WERE NOT SPEAKING SO FAST. SHE WAS ALSO JUST READING IT INSTEADING OF ACTING. I FINALLY GAVE UP TRYING TO LISTEN TO IT AND NEVER FINISHED. I WAS NOT HAPPY ABOUT WASTING MY MONEY ON THIS BOOK.
I AM SURE IT WAS A RIGHT CUTE BOOK IF IT COULD BE UNDERSTOOD.
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