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Ranking Author Angela Thirkell’s Best Books (A Bibliography Countdown)

“What are Angela Thirkell’s Best Books?” We looked at all of Thirkell’s authored bibliography and ranked them against one another to answer that very question!

We took all of the books written by Angela Thirkell and looked at their Goodreads, Amazon, and LibraryThing scores, ranking them against one another to see which books came out on top. The books are ranked in our list below based on which titles have the highest overall score between all 3 review sites in comparison with all of the other books by the same author. The process isn’t super scientific and in reality, most books aren’t “better” than other books as much as they are just different. That being said, we do enjoy seeing where our favorites landed, and if you aren’t familiar with the author at all, the rankings can help you see what books might be best to start with.

The full ranking chart is also included below the countdown on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!



The Top Book’s Of Angela Thirkell



37 ) The Grateful Sparrow

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 29
  • Amazon: 34
  • LibraryThing: 33



36 ) Ankle Deep

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 29
  • Amazon: 30
  • LibraryThing: 32

Fanny Turner is a crafty woman who “would have felt sentiment of an infuriated kind” if her family duties had ever interfered with her frenetic social life. One weekend she invites Valentine Ensor, a divorced school friend of her husband Arthur, for a weekend, along with an older couple, the Howards, who bring along their daughter, the somewhat dour Aurea Palgrave. Aurea is now married and living quite unhappily in Canada, but Arthur had once been in love with her. The weekend is a somewhat predictable time of star-crossed love and slight misunderstandings that lead nowhere. Fanny is quite forward, and although she is married claims that one should always carry on with several men at once because “If you only care for one you’ll always get hurt”.



35 ) Coronation Summer

	Coronation Summer

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 28
  • Amazon: 32
  • LibraryThing: 27

Seventeen-year-old Fanny’s journey to London for the six weeks of coronation festivities gives Angela Thirkell a spendid opportunity to re-create the atmosphere of 19th-century England in a tale replete with period details and illustrations. Happily, the pomp and pageantry of London do little to distract Fanny from the more familiar Thirkellian concerns of the rigors of matchmaking and the rituals of courtship.



34 ) Trooper to the Southern Cross

	Trooper to the Southern Cross

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 27
  • Amazon: 27
  • LibraryThing: 31



33 ) Three Score and Ten

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 29
  • Amazon: 34
  • LibraryThing: 18

Thirkell’s last, unfinished novel, completed by her close friend C. A. Lejeune, features a host of new and old friends from the author’s beloved Barsetshire. This time out, a little boy appears to save Wiple Terrace, home of Miss Hampton and Miss Bent, from destruction. The budding romance between Lord Mellings and Lavinia Merton flowers, a past love finds Dr. Ford, and the Old Bank House provides the setting for the final scene, an all-Barsetshire party to celebrate the 70th birthday of Mrs. Morland, the popular novelist.



32 ) The Brandons and Others

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 12
  • Amazon: 34
  • LibraryThing: 34



31 ) What Did It Mean?

	What Did It Mean?

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 22
  • Amazon: 33
  • LibraryThing: 24

The capable and forthright Lydia Merton, wife of the esteemed Noel Merton, chairs the local committee preparing for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. What follows is pure Angela Thirkell – squabbles, jealousies, and high jinks aplenty. As always, romance brews amidst the eccentricity.



30 ) O These Men, These Men!

	O These Men, These Men!

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 29
  • Amazon: 11
  • LibraryThing: 34

O, These Men, These Men! first published in 1935 and long out of print, is one of Angela Thirkell’s few non-Barsetshire novels. Believed to be something of a roman-a-clef, it deftly chronicles the sorrows and renewals, the heartbreak and graduation of happiness in the life of a refined young woman who has weathered the end of an ill-starred marriage.



28 ) Three Houses

	Three Houses

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 25
  • Amazon: 13
  • LibraryThing: 30

In this charming memoir, Angela Thirkell fills each of the three houses she lived in with details, describing the layout of rooms and youthful hidey-holes as well as their fascinating literary associations–one was once the home of novelist Samuel Richardson and one was across from her older cousin, Rudyard Kipling.



28 ) Pomfret Towers

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 29
  • Amazon: 34
  • LibraryThing: 5



27 ) Christmas at High Rising

	Christmas at High Rising

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 26
  • Amazon: 11
  • LibraryThing: 29

Originally published in the 1930s and 1940s and never before collected, these stories by the incomparable Angela Thirkell relate merry scenes of a trip to the pantomime, escapades on ice, a Christmas Day gone awry, and an electrifying afternoon for Laura Morland and friends at Low Rising, not to mention the chatter of the arty set at a London private view. Charming, irreverent and full of mischievous humour, they offer the utmost entertainment in any season of the year.



26 ) The Demon in the House

	The Demon in the House

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 24
  • Amazon: 13
  • LibraryThing: 28

In her second Barsetshire novel, Thirkell continues the saga of the irrepressible Tony Morland. An actual boy must be lurking somewhere in the background as it would be impossible to make up such a monumental Pest. Grown ups and children alike are ground into submission by his everlasting chatter and overweening ‘self-esteem’. Only Dr Ford, whose conversation with Tony is confined to the phrase ‘Shut up’ and Sylvia Gould, the swimming instructor, who exposes Tony’s vaunted diving ability as phoney, come anywhere near even temporarily quashing him. Tony and his silent friend Donk (but how could he be otherwise around Tony?) are referred to as the ‘little boys’ at age thirteen and Rose, age fourteen, is comforted by Mrs Morland while holding her on her lap; how times have changed! Perhaps brought together by a common exasperation towards Tony, Dr Ford and Sylvia appear headed for the altar.



25 ) Enter Sir Robert

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 29
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 34

Set against the backdrop of two of Barsetshire’s less frequented communities, this tale plays out the yearnings and hesitations of a characteristically cross-purposed set of lovers. Each village is home to one of the two families whose unmarried children provide the romantic interest. As the novel ends, the heroine Edith eventually chooses travel over men and leaves for America.



24 ) Wild Strawberries

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 23
  • Amazon: 18
  • LibraryThing: 21



23 ) Before Lunch

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 29
  • Amazon: 13
  • LibraryThing: 19

A difficult husband is perturbed by news that his sister-in-law and her children will be spending summer in an adjoining cottage, but when the family arrives they captivate the entire village. Even the husband begins to warm to his relatives’ charms.



21 ) The Old Bank House

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 1
  • Amazon: 25
  • LibraryThing: 34

The Old Bank House, first published in 1949 and long unavailable, welcomes us back into the author’s world of comfortable community and generous, probing humor. The Old Bank House is a large and beautiful dwelling belonging to Miss Sowerby, the last of a long Barsetshire line, whose age and dwindling resources are unequal to the task of maintaining such a demanding manse. Having overcome her leeriness about the pedigree of Mr. Sam Adams, Miss Sowerby agrees to sell the family home to the ironmaster, now Member of Parliament, whose social ascendancy has been traced in earlier installments of Thirkell’s modern Barsetshire chronicles. But upon learning that Mr. Adams will be living in the house alone once his daughter marries, she warns, “There’s only one thing I must tell you about the house, Mr. Adams…It likes a mistress.” With the stage thus set, Thirkell commences to choreograph another delightful round of romantic infatuations and cross-purposes before bringing several dancers to rest in the happy poses of a wedding.



21 ) Happy Returns

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 29
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 22

From Sir Cecil Waring’s plans to create a home for boys of naval men killed in the war, to Charles Belton’s hesitant courtship and headlong marriage to the spoiled Clarissa Graham, to librarian and local historian Grace Grantely’s betrothal to Lord Lufton — with much discussion in between of gardens, dogs, and pressing issues of economic and political import — Angela Thirkell’s Happy Returns reveals (to quote her own praise of Lady Lufton), “all her excellent qualities to the best advantage.”



20 ) Peace Breaks Out

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 29
  • Amazon: 5
  • LibraryThing: 25

Even drama settles into circumstance, as the denizens of Barsetshire have learned through the private and public worries the Second World War has delivered to the homefront. When peace breaks out, it surprises and unsettles familiar wartime routines, and the residents of Angela Thirkell’s fictional world of town and country seem nearly as disconcerted as they are overjoyed. Nevertheless, as the county’s eligible young men return home, the social round regains its old momentum. Before long, everyone – especially Anne Fielding, now quite grown up at nineteen – is spinning in a sweet flurry of misunderstandings and engagements.



19 ) Love at All Ages

	Love at All Ages

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 20
  • Amazon: 29
  • LibraryThing: 6

Love and marriage – and delightful eccentrics – thrive in Angela Thirkell’s fictitious English county of Barsetshire. In this novel, Lady Gwendolyn Harcourt, sister of the Duke of Towers, marries elderly Rev. Oriel of Harefield, while a romance prospers between Lord Mellings and Lavinia Merton.



17 ) Miss Bunting

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 8
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 23

In this novel of Barsetshire life, we meet the eccentric Rector of Hallbury Old Town, with his passion for the prophecies of Haggai, the Mixo-Lydian refugee, Gradka, with her admirable cooking and her pendant’s approach to the works of W.S. Gilbert, and a brace of Thirkellian small boys who make a triumphant first appearance. This novel is Angela Thirkell at the peak of her form – a penetrating and amusing story.



17 ) A Double Affair

	A Double Affair

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 19
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 26

Older and wiser than the usual betrothed, Herbert Choyce and Miss Merriman are in no hurry to get married. But, in this 27th of Thirkell’s Barsetshire novels, the enthusiasm of friends and neighbors sweeps them up in a rush to the altar, with unexpected results.



15 ) Close Quarters

	Close Quarters

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 17
  • Amazon: 25
  • LibraryThing: 10

In the 17th volume of the beloved Barsetshire series, widowed Margot (Phelps) Macfadyen is in search of a house. As she calls on her numerous friends, readers find themselves in the midst of another Thirkellian social whirl. When the dust settles, Teddy Parkinson is installed in his new vicarship, Mavis owns a washing machine, and Tubby Fewling has regained Margot’s heart.



15 ) High Rising

	High Rising

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 20
  • Amazon: 18
  • LibraryThing: 14



14 ) Never Too Late

	Never Too Late

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 16
  • Amazon: 23
  • LibraryThing: 11

Angela Thirkell’s stylish prose and deft portrayal of the human spectacle in the imaginary county of Barsetshire continue in this comedy of manners. Set in the mid-1950s, following the upheaval of war and its aftermath, this novel provides a canvas for the comings and goings of cultivated gentry. Many old friends from previous novels appear, and, as always, romance and gossip play a central role in the plot.



13 ) August Folly

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 14
  • Amazon: 18
  • LibraryThing: 16



12 ) The Duke’s Daughter

	The Duke's Daughter

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 6
  • Amazon: 31
  • LibraryThing: 2

In The Duke’s Daughter, ordinary country pleasures provide the happenstance for the hopes and hesitations of young love. Family names familiar from earlier installments in the Baretshire series–Marling and Adams, Winter and Waring, Belton and Dale–populate the pages of this engaging novel, as enamored men and women find their way into each other’s hearts, culmination in one day in which three engagements are announced! To traditional concerns of the gentry is added a fierce displeasure with intrusions of the post-war government (the office of “Red Tape and Sealing Wax”), yet this new-found preoccupation does nothing to deter the onset of a happy ending for all concerned. Few reading pleasures are a comforting as making the acquaintance of an entire community and charting the progress of its generations throught the rituals of romance and the experiments of time. Angela Thirkell’s modern Barsetshire chronicals afford just such pleasure, allowing us to follow the local social relations and romantic entanglements of a cohesive band of British gentry through the decades of the mid-twentieth century, when changes in the cultural and political landscape admit confusion to their traditional world, but do little to dim the allure of local comedies.



11 ) Cheerfulness Breaks in

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 2
  • Amazon: 28
  • LibraryThing: 8

Originally published in 1940, a saga set in rural England as the clouds of war gather over Europe, in which the villagers rally round to offer their support when it is learned that a London school is to be evacuated there, and the local characters are seen in their true colours.



10 ) Private Enterprise

	Private Enterprise

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 14
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 20

When the Second World War ends, “the boringness of public events” combines with continued shortages to curtail conversation in the parlors and drawing-rooms of Barsetshire: there’s “really nothing to talk about but food.” But happy tongues begin to wag at last when a war widow and her unmarried sister-in-law take up residence in a cottage at Southbridge. The young women’s arrival and the promise of romantic possibilities it carries create a delightful stir among the bachelors and matchmakers of Barsetshire society, providing a welcome distraction from the lingering privations of peacetime.



9 ) County Chronicle

	County Chronicle

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 8
  • Amazon: 18
  • LibraryThing: 7

Pairings begun in previous volumes come to fruition and other characters surface with promises of future couplings. Lucy’s marriage to Sam Adams seals his acceptance by the ‘county’, bringing new blood and, not to be overlooked, new money, into the mix. Jessica Dean marries her manager Aubrey Clover leaving a brooding Oliver Marling, and Mrs Brandon escapes her selfish son when she marries Canon Joram. The younger women have occupations but not yet ‘careers’ and Isabel Dale’s success as a mystery writer is somehow less important than the dilettante efforts of the males of the species. Isabel’s family inheritance brings ‘county’ money to her engagement to the tax-impoverished Lord Silverbridge, making his standing for Parliament a possibility (Conservative, of course) in the continuing battle with ‘Them’. We sense in these events the further encroachment of a new middle class no longer based on land ownership and family. Amalia Angeloni Jacobucci



8 ) Jutland Cottage

	Jutland Cottage

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 13
  • Amazon: 5
  • LibraryThing: 14

Local gossip takes center stage with the romance between a new rector and “The incredibly beautiful and even more incredibly silly” Rose Fairweather. The impoverished and unmarried Margot Phelps leads her female neighbors in a dramatic and hilarious makeover of the 40-something spinster in this tale.



6 ) Summer Half

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 4
  • Amazon: 18
  • LibraryThing: 8

A novel concerned with parties, punting and awkward passions follows the story of a headmaster plagued by love-sick masters and precocious pupils as well as importunate parents and most of all, his daughter Rose, whose stubborn dim-wittedness almost outweighs her startling beauty.



6 ) Marling Hall

	Marling Hall

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 8
  • Amazon: 5
  • LibraryThing: 17

This dry comedy of manners, set in a parochial England that was rapidly disappearing under the threat of Nazi Germany, was the first of Thirkell’s increasingly dark novels written during World War II. But the placid surface of middle-class life in towns such as Marling Melicent–where a bohemian, faintly disreputable brother and sister suddenly appear and rent an Edwardian manor–remains mostly undisturbed.



5 ) Northbridge Rectory

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 8
  • Amazon: 8
  • LibraryThing: 12



4 ) Love Among the Ruins

	Love Among the Ruins

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 17
  • Amazon: 3
  • LibraryThing: 4

At the close of the Second World War, Sir Harry and Lady Waring gave permission to their niece, Leslie Winter, and her husband, Philip, to turn Beliers Priory – its service as a military hospital complete – into a preparatory school for boys. Two years later, as the plot of Love Among the Ruins begins to turn, the Priory School is flourishing. A cast of characters quickly gathers around the Winters: Charles Belton, newly-hired school master at the Priory School, and his elder brother, Captain Freddy Belton of the Royal Navy; Susan Dean, the Red Cross Depot Librarian and her sister, Jessica, an actress in thrall to the theatre; Lucy Marling, and her brother Oliver. The social order, no less than its political and economic counterparts, has been ravaged by the domestic tensions of the war. It, too, is in ruins, and the behavior of the young men and women is both bewildered and bewildering – a situation ripe with comic possibilities.



3 ) The Headmistress

	The Headmistress

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 7
  • Amazon: 13
  • LibraryThing: 3

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. Amalia Angeloni Jacobucci



2 ) The Brandons

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 4
  • Amazon: 4
  • LibraryThing: 13

A beautiful, much admired woman is summoned by her late husband’s aunt who wishes to interview her before deciding who should inherit her home. This precipitates a romantic entanglement which makes life quite confusing for all concerned.



1 ) Growing Up

	Growing Up

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 3
  • Amazon: 13
  • LibraryThing: 1

Well-loved by a legion of devoted readers, Angela Thirkell’s modern Barsetshire chronicles are terrific comedies of manners, sparkling in a way both sophisticated and sweet. Her ample sense of humor is obvious in the place names here of Winter Overcotes, Shearing Junction, Worsted, Lambton, Fleece, Skeynes, and Eiderdown. This gay atmosphere is set against the gloom of WWII with great effect. Growing Up is a story of ladies and gentlemen–and their irrepressible children–keeping the war at bay in and about the country town. The estate of Beliers Priory in East Baretshire is the home of Sir Harry and Lady Waring. They open their home to convalescing soldiers. With their niece, young friends and a housemaid romance abounds both upstairs and downstairs as these children “grow up” in spite of their circumstances. Her fictional stretch of English countryside, Barsetshire, is spirited with infatuations, endearments, cross-purposes–in other words, with good people going about the business of life, irresistibly entertaining in their determination to misunderstand each other.



Angela Thirkell’s Best Books



Angela Thirkell Review Website Bibliography Rankings

BookGoodreadsAmazonLibraryThingOveral Rank
Growing Up 3 13 1 1
The Brandons 4 4 13 2
The Headmistress 7 13 3 3
Love Among the Ruins 17 3 4 4
Northbridge Rectory 8 8 12 5
Summer Half 4 18 8 6
Marling Hall 8 5 17 6
Jutland Cottage 13 5 14 8
County Chronicle 8 18 7 9
Private Enterprise 14 1 20 10
Cheerfulness Breaks in 2 28 8 11
The Duke’s Daughter 6 31 2 12
August Folly 14 18 16 13
Never Too Late 16 23 11 14
Close Quarters 17 25 10 15
High Rising 20 18 14 15
Miss Bunting 8 23 23 17
A Double Affair 19 9 26 17
Love at All Ages 20 29 6 19
Peace Breaks Out 29 5 25 20
The Old Bank House 1 25 34 21
Happy Returns 29 9 22 21
Before Lunch 29 13 19 23
Wild Strawberries 23 18 21 24
Enter Sir Robert 29 1 34 25
The Demon in the House 24 13 28 26
Christmas at High Rising 26 11 29 27
Three Houses 25 13 30 28
Pomfret Towers 29 34 5 28
O These Men, These Men! 29 11 34 30
What Did It Mean? 22 33 24 31
The Brandons and Others 12 34 34 32
Three Score and Ten 29 34 18 33
Trooper to the Southern Cross 27 27 31 34
Coronation Summer 28 32 27 35
Ankle Deep 29 30 32 36
The Grateful Sparrow 29 34 33 37

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