Angela Thirkell’s High Rising doesn’t sound like much from a summary. Basically, Laura Morland, a successful writer of “good bad books,” goes to the country for Christmas with her talkative train-obsessed son in tow. She has tea with her village* neighbors, her publisher comes to stay, and they all go to a New Year’s party at a neighbor’s house. What little plot there is revolves around Mrs Morland’s attempts to rescue neighbor (and fellow writer) George Knox from his young, beautiful secretary. High Rising is more about the journey than the destination. We’re basically dropped in the middle of 1930s English village society where we get to observe the lives of its inhabitants for a brief space of time. Plus, there are some really funny bits. High Rising would be a good antidote to any dark or serious reading–the literary equivalent of a nice cup of tea.
*The villages of High Rising and Low Rising are in Barsetshire, the fictional county originally created by Anthony Trollope. From what I can tell, it must be located somewhere in the Wiltshire/Gloucestershire area (Cotswolds, probably). One arrives via train from London Paddington (takes about 90 minutes), and many of the villages have wool-related names.