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The headmistress : a novel
Thirkell, Angela
Adult Fiction THIRKELL

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Summary: The Beltons of Harefield Park, in financial straits endemic to the times, have leased the ancestral home to the Hosier's Girls School whose headmistress, Miss Sparling, a cut above the 'nouveau riche' students, is welcomed into village society. Sam Adams, a wealthy, self-made industrialist, and his lumpish daughter Heather are introduced and we glimpse 'the thin entering wedge' into the solid front of the old gentry. Mixo-Lydians backed by Dr Perry's wife, and Slavo-Lydians, clients of the mildly obnoxious Mrs Hunter, barely avoid violent confrontation; it is Mr Adams who gives short shrift to their belligerent solicitations. And we meet again the bemused Mrs Updike whose self-battering, as she careens through life, gives new meaning to 'accident-prone'. Miss Sparling reaches an 'understanding' with perennial bachelor Sidney Carton (yes, we know) and strong willed Elsa Belton is corralled by Captain Hornsby who declines to be jilted. The poignant relationship between Mrs Belton and her charming but prickly younger son, Charles, on embarkation leave, cuts through the lightheartedness and brings the war home.

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