Book Review: Ankle Deep

Ankle Deep by Angela Thirkell (1933)

The opening paragraphs of Ankle Deep suggest that it is a typical example of a particular genre. The author lets the reader continue under that misapprehension for a short while then inexorably bends the story in one place and straightens it in another and discloses a few cards hidden up the narrator’s sleeve. By the last page the reader has been taken to both expected and unexpected places and has been finally set down not far from the point where they were originally swept up – in the process having experienced a ride on that strangest of beasts, the existential comedy of manners.

This early Thirkell novel, published in the same year as her first Barsetshire novel, is written with a surety of authorial voice that allows the reader for relax and enjoy this glimpse of a way of life that zie knows will only too soon come to an end. The particular problems that face the characters are both similar to and very different from those which face families today. While some of the particular problems Thirkell\’s characters encounter (for example, the public shame that accompanied divorce) reflect a much different world than our own other problems (especially those rooted in the personalities of the characters) remain with us today.

Although this is not one of the better remembered Thirkells it was an enjoyable read, a worthwhile reread and a spur to find and read more of the author\’s work.


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