What Did It Mean?

Thirkell, Angela. What did It Mean? . New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1954.

Reason read: Thirkell was born on January 30th and interestingly enough, died on January 29th seventy one years later. Read What Did It Mean? in her honor.

From the onset, I didn’t think I would care for What Did It Mean?. Before the reader gets ten pages in he or she is introduced to a myriad of characters with no clue as to their importance to the plot. I had to start a list and was constantly wondering if I needed to remember these people later on. The plot itself centers around the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Everyone is frantically planning complicated festivities through various committees. Of course, every member has ulterior motives and the main objective is often forgotten in the frenzy. With there being so many different characters, it is a study in society as much as it is about a specific locale, Barsetshire. I couldn’t help it but I found myself getting bored.

The only line I liked, “The Women’s Institutes and the Townswomen’s Guild became as sisters, though always reserving the right of a sister to dislike a sister wholeheartedly (p 7).

Author fact: Thirkell also wrote Pomfret Towers: a Novel which is on my Challenge list. Sigh.
Author gossip: According to Thirkell’s Wikipedia page, Thirkell left her second husband in Australia under the guise of going on holiday to England when, in reality, she was leaving for good. To be fair, Thirkell’s first husband insisted on naming their first child after a former lover.

Book trivia: What Did It Mean is one of almost 30 books in the Barsetshire Chronicles (yes, Anthony Trollope’s fictional Barsetshire).

Nancy said: Nancy had a lot to say about Thirkell’s writing in general, but nothing specific about What Did It Mean? Probably the most interesting comment Pearl had about Thirkell is the “appallingly nasty things” Thirkell had her characters utter.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Barsetshire and Beyond” (p 15).



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