Monday, July 31, 2017

Pomfret Towers

I am pleased to announce that I found an Angela Thirkell novel that I actually liked. I've been slowly reading my way through her collected works, and finding each book to be worse than the last. Trooper to the Southern Cross, Demon in the House, O These Men, These Men!, The Fortunes of Harriette, and Summer Half were all pretty bad, so Pomfret Towers (1938) was a pleasant surprise.

I got my copy at the public library

First of all, most of the action happens at a weekend party at a country house, and you couldn't ask for a more perfect venue for comforting British chick lit. Secondly, there are no children in this book, and children, as portrayed by Angela Thirkell, are particularly horrible. Thirdly Thirkell doesn't mock the servants or demean the lower classes. Instead, she aims her mockery at pretentious poseur artists and self-important authors, which is much more satisfying.

Here's a quick plot sketch. Alice Barton is the painfully shy daughter of a respectable architect. She and her brother Guy are invited to a weekend house party at Pomfret Towers, occupied by the local lord. Of course Alice doesn't want to go, but her mother makes her. And so we meet the usual weekend house party people: assorted sporty hunting people, a publisher, a professor, the lord's heir, and girl with a hyphenated last name who screams a lot. There's also a snobbish and officious "authoress" who's main object is to get her daughter married to the heir, and her son, Julian, a pretentious artist of dubious talent with whom Alice falls in love. These two get snubbed and humiliated in a variety of amusing ways.

Pomfret Towers isn't a perfect book by any means. If I had a ranking system, I'd give it 6.5 stars out of 10. Thirkell tends to pad her writing with unnecessary plot action: "She crossed the room and greeted her aunt and then sat down." Still, I enjoyed it enough to recommend that you check it out of your library, if it's in their collection, but don't go crazy tracking down a copy to buy, unless you can get it for less than $5.


  1. I'll take a hard pass and stick with Jeeves and Wooster for my country house antics;)