In the midst of World War Two, the Beltons of Harefield Park find themselves "living on overdrafts to an extent that even they found alarming." It seems they may have to sell the family estate- for which, during wartime, there is little demand.Their prayers are answered, however, in the unlikely form of Miss Sparling, the dauntless headmistress of the recently evacuated Hoisers' Girls' Foundation School, who just happens to be looking for a country mansion to let. THE HEADMISTRESS, first published in 1945 and long unavailable, is typical Thirkell: charming, witty, and refreshingly urbane.
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Angela Thirkell's gentle wit and her keen eye for the foibles, apparel, and surroundings of the English bourgeoisie is never more apparent than in this blithe story of the plucky heroine of the title. Miss Sparling is handsome, efficient, and immensely competent, and while Thirkell was hardly a latent feminist, the men in this book are mostly dependent husbands, worthless fops, or ironic and detached observers. Thirkell's work feeds our nostalgia for an idealized English countryside that is no more and, perhaps, never was.About the Author:
Angela Thirkell was born in London in 1890. Mrs. Thirkell did not begin writing novels until her return to Britain in 1930; then, for the rest of her life, she produced a new book almost every year until her death in 1961.
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