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Barsetshire Books In Order

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Publication Order of Barsetshire Books

High Rising (1933)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Demon in the House (1934)Description / Buy at Amazon
Wild Strawberries (1934)Description / Buy at Amazon
August Folly (1936)Description / Buy at Amazon
Summer Half (1937)Description / Buy at Amazon
Pomfret Towers (1938)Description / Buy at Amazon
Before Lunch (1939)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Brandons (1939)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cheerfulness Breaks In (1940)Description / Buy at Amazon
Northbridge Rectory (1941)Description / Buy at Amazon
Marling Hall (1942)Description / Buy at Amazon
Growing Up (1943)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Headmistress (1944)Description / Buy at Amazon
Miss Bunting (1945)Description / Buy at Amazon
Peace Breaks Out (1946)Description / Buy at Amazon
Private Enterprise (1947)Description / Buy at Amazon
Love Among the Ruins (1948)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Old Bank House (1949)Description / Buy at Amazon
County Chronicle (1950)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Dukes Daughter (1951)Description / Buy at Amazon
Happy Return (1952)Description / Buy at Amazon
Jutland Cottage (1953)Description / Buy at Amazon
What Did it Mean? (1954)Description / Buy at Amazon
Enter Sir Robert (1955)Description / Buy at Amazon
Never Too Late (1956)Description / Buy at Amazon
A Double Affair (1957)Description / Buy at Amazon
Close Quarters (1958)Description / Buy at Amazon
Love at All Ages (1959)Description / Buy at Amazon
Three Score and Ten (1961)Description / Buy at Amazon
Christmas at High Rising (2013)Description / Buy at Amazon

Barsetshire is a series of satirical romance novels written by Angela Thirkell. The books are about everything and nothing at the same. They deal with love and life, and they explore various types of relationships via the conversations between the characters.

+The Story
Angela Thirkell did not think much of her Barsetshire series when she first sat down to write the novels. She always looked at them as fluff, stories she only decided to produce after she moved to Australia and concluded that writing was an effective way to make money.

But then she wrote ‘High Rising’, the first novel in the Barsetshire series, and the book garnered a lot of interest from readers who could not get enough of the goings on of her fictional setting and its quirky characters, and the author realized that she had a goldmine on her hands.

The Barsetshire novels take place in a quaint county that is inhabited by a diverse collection of individuals emerging from both the upper and the lower classes.

The people of Barsetshire get along well enough. But the troubles of life are never far from their doorstep. Readers are treated to the drama and the excitement that litters the lives of the mothers and brothers, and widows and lovers that walk the streets of Barsetshire.

Each installment has a particular protagonist at its core; a character or group of characters facing a unique challenge. Thirkell, the author, wrote the first Barsetshire novel in 1933.

She then proceeded to add one novel to the series every single year until she died in 1961. The fictional setting of Barsetshire was actually created by Anthony Trollope.

Trollope was an English author who lived and died in the 1800s. He wrote numerous stories set in the Victorian Era but he was best known for the Chronicles of Barsetshire.

Trollope initially intended to set his stories in Somerset but a fictional location eventually proved too alluring for the author to pass up. In the beginning, Barsetshire had a single parliamentary constituency.

But then circumstances arose and saw the county get divided into two constituencies one of which was rural and simple, and the other commercial and wealthy. The six novels Trollope set in Barsetshire were serious in the stories they told, dealing with the politics, religion and the social maneuverings of the town.

Thirkell was more interested in the romance that bubbled beneath the surface of the county. A lot of the Barsetshire novels feel like they might be the same book but with different characters and a few distinct plot threads on the fringes.

Thirkell places a lot of emphasis on the interactions between her characters. So much talking takes place in the Barsetshire novels and most of it is nonsensical. Thirkell tries to shine a light on people outside the most dramatic moments of their lives.

She tries to show the normal gossip and the laughter and the talk of the unimportant that fills the life of the average person. The world in which her stories take place is, by no means, perfect.

At some point in the series, the World War begins to encroach upon Barsetshire’s borders. Its inhabitants are well aware of the violence raging abroad and the chaos that is probably going to descend upon them in a little while.

However, that never stops them from bickering and sharing rumors and having the most wonderful conversations. The Barsetshire books are the representation of a simple English County Life that was starting to disappear even as Thirkell wrote and published these novels.

Her works are nostalgic and comical. When she pokes fun at the gay couple in the neighboring village or the schoolmaster who can’t pronounce capitalist, she does so with a sense of whimsy.

It is worth noting that Trollope wasn’t the only author from whom Thirkell borrowed when she sat down to write the Barsetshire series. She also took ideas from the works of John Galsworthy and even borrowed some quotes from the likes of Elizabeth Gaskell.

Interestingly enough, Angela Thirkell seemed to harbor a great fear that her well-educated friends would one day stumble upon her Barsetshire works. Thirkell, on her part, preferred writers like Austen, Dickens, and Gibbon and she didn’t think she would have read her own Barsetshire novels if she hadn’t written them.

And yet that apprehension did not stop the Barsetshire series from thriving, finding an audience amongst readers who loved the satiric exuberance of the author’s literary efforts.

+The Author
Angela Thirkell was an English author born in 1890 in London. She married and eventually divorced James Campbell McInnes, a professional Baritone. They had conceived two children by this point in time.

Born Angela Margaret Mackail, she got the name by which she is best known from her second husband, George Lancelot Thirkell. George was the one who dragged her to Australia. She eventually left the country in 1929 with her son, moved in with her parents and began writing professionally as a means of earning a living.

+High Rising
The first novel in the Barsetshire series tells a number of stories. At their center is Laura Morland. A middle-aged woman with a busy life, Laura is a happy widow who writes a series of books that she admits are quite bad but which help her pay the bills.

She must deal with disappointed suitors, delightful children and everything in between.

+Wild Strawberries
The second novel in the Barsetshire series follows the exploits of the Leslie family and the machinations their relatives bring to the table. Behind all the chaos in which the Leslies are embroiled is Lady Emily.

Emily has a knack for causing trouble. It doesn’t matter how well things are going. Emily knows just what it takes to create problems where none existed. Her world takes an interesting turn when Mr. Leslie goes on a cruise.

Readers follow her exploits as well as those of her daughter Agnes, who keeps pushing new children out even though her husband is perennially abroad, a consummate leech, French tenants and a housekeeper.

That isn’t even taking into account the children.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Barsetshire

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