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The social minuet of the society of Barsetshire continues. Predictably, Thirkell produces a stream of matrimonial fodder, both young and not-so-young. Youngsters from previous volumes grow up, marry and reproduce, and replace oldsters who retire or move on. Newcomers advance and retreat and in some instances remain as permanent players. The Brandons reappear and past threads are picked up and ingeniously woven into the social fabric to the satisfaction of all. Mild flirtations and an 'affair' of three generations ago are the closest we come to scandal. Thirkell's humour reveals itself most trenchantly in her minor characters (see the comfortable bickering of Vicar Horton and his younger aunt) and in her singular names for places, events, and groups; here we have 'The Home For Stiff-Necked Clergy', 'Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Ancient Buildings', 'Red Tape and Sealing Wax Office', and the 'Ministry of General Interference'.
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