“She recognized, without rancour, that it always had been and always would be impossible to talk to her own friends when her masterful mother was present. For this reason, as we know, she had preferred to live in the flat over the stables where at least she had solitude when she needed it and could ask a friend to tea.”
Lucy, Lettice’s sister, on the other hand is assertive, bossy, and totally the opposite of her sister. When Lucy invites a friend (Captain Barclay), home to tea, he immediately detects the contrast in personalities and is attracted to Leticia. But is it kind to Lucy, Lettice thinks, to steal her sister’s friend?
‘Marling Hall’ was published in 1942, written in 1941. Thirkell gives the reader a window into what everyday life was like in the beginning years of the war for England. Food and clothing rationing has not yet made a full impact (although the reader can tell that the effects of rationing will be felt soon).
There are several characters with not only the challenges of the war to overcome (and the changes brought to their personal lives), but their own internal foibles and problems. The charming David Leslie whom everyone seems to love (although he can’t fool his old nurse, Miss Bunting), is also enamored of Leticia. Whom will she choose? The Harveys, a brother and sister, rent from Mrs. Smith and Miss Harvey sets her cap at Oliver Marling.
“One of the things he admired in Miss Harvey was her firm, nay almost overbearing attitude towards her brother. He liked her spirit and did not stop to think that her power of bullying might be equally applied to a husband.”
The annoying Mrs. Smith, who is also a widow, rents her home out and then continually returns to ‘borrow’ the items she misses and her tenants seem unable to resist her.
“Oh, Mrs. Smith,’ said Mr. Harvey. ‘Is she a friend of yours? I wish you would ask her not to come and take things out of the house now we have taken it. She has got two saucepans and a reading lamp and she has just taken the dining-room tongs.’ “
Not my favorite Thirkell but entertaining nonetheless!