Battles at Thrush Green by Miss Read
At the time of writing, the UK has started to come out of lockdown. Hairdressers and gyms are now open. And you can treat yourself to a takeaway drink and sit outside with it. Pubs are able to serve alcohol outside again and the first weekend was packed with thirsty drinkers. It's interesting times. Like a lot of people I feel slightly apprehensive, not fully embracing my pre-lockdown life and eager to hang onto the aspects of lockdown I've found most fulfilling. Being in nature, walks with my husband and of course lots of lovely reading.
The #MissReadReadalong continues apace and April's book was Battles at Thrush Green. One of the group asked why Miss Read novels are so appealing. I believe that lockdown has certainly encouraged a slower pace of life - being in nature, baking banana bread, reading, playing board games and enjoying Zoom meetings with family and friends. It's something I've been looking for and Miss Read encompasses so much of this already. In case you've missed it, here are the Thrush Green novels we have tackled so far:
The sleepy Cotswold village of Thrush Green has plenty going on in this novel. As Albert Piggott struggles to maintain the churchyard in his job as sexton. The Rector Charles Henstock comes up with an idea to make maintenance easier. But if ruffles a few feathers and leads to the resignation of two Parish Council members. Miss Potter has joined the teaching staff at Thrush Green's village school, but her presence leads to disharmony between Misses Watson and Fogarty.
And eccentric Dotty Harmer has been bequeathed a car. Having not driven for quite some time she causes havoc on the streets of Thrush Green and Lulling leading to an accident and an appearance at the local courts. Will the Rector solve his dilemma with the graveyard? Will the school staff ever reach harmony and does prison beckon for Dotty?
Like a stormy, winter's day, Thrush Green definitely felt more troubled in this book and it was the first time I had witnessed conflict in the village. Miss Read's own love of nature reflects the turbulent times and is used to great effect to show the peaks and troughs of this little village. The plot moves along at a gentle pave, and there was certainly lots to cover in the novel.
As ever Miss Read has captured village life beautifully. And manages to highlight how a seemingly innocent comment can lead to offence and hurt feelings. In a village it is always important to tread carefully!
The writing is, as always, precise and subtle and I do want to draw attention to one extremely beautiful and moving chapter. As one beloved character is nearing the end of his life, we see on his final night a snapshot of the village. The chapter moves through Thrush Green as news is awaited of this character; friends, neighbours, the local pub, the Rectory and Church all provide a picture of an evening in the village, where the thoughts are with this dear man. It's very moving and made me feel very emotional and sad at the loss of this beloved character. Beautifully done.
There are of course moments of levity - the Havelock Sisters remain comical and Dotty is delightedly eccentric. The accident of Cyril has the village speculating on his condition which ranges from fine to critical and a smattering of limbs amputated in between!
Best of all we are starting to see a slightly more modern village in the 1970s. Home comforts such as central heating are starting to creep in, there are men with long hair and unmarried mothers!
I have enjoyed all the Thrush Green novels I have read so far, but I think this has been my favourite. I'm looking forward to May's choice which will be Return to Thrush Green.