borrowed Anthony Trollope's imaginary setting of Barsetshire for her 29
comedies of manners. Like the others, Love among the Ruins
concentrates on the country life of the landed British gentry. "The
Ruins" of the title refers to a way of life that was vanishing in
post–World War II England. Food and supplies are rationed,
and the gentry are no longer profiting from their land. Yet life goes
on as it has for generations; a pig breeders competition is central to
the limited action.
Love among the Ruins has so many characters it can be hard to keep them straight. (Hint: Most important are Susan and Jessica Dean and their mother; Freddy and Charles Belton and their mother; Lucy Manning and her brother Oliver; and Clarissa Graham.) Two of them become engaged in the end. (No surprise there — it's typical of Thirkell endings.) Thirkell's portrayals are sympathetic. There are no ogres or villains, no dastardly deeds.
Thirkell's dialogue-heavy books aren't for everyone, but for those who enjoy the gossip of a certain sort of neighborhood, they are charming and entertaining. If you enjoy Love among the Ruins, it may be comforting to know there are 28 other much-the-same books with continuing characters.
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