The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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September 7, 2015

The Square Circle

To begin with, and whether we are considering the central patch of sooty green or the respectable houses which surround it, Tiverton Square is most certainly anything but an equilateral rectangle. However, we are used to that here in London, where squares can be almost any shape, including circular and oval, that their original designers may have thought pleasant or convenient, and even three-sided and two-sided squares are by no means unknown. The main requirement, undoubtedly, though even this is sometimes absent, is that central patch with its grass, trees and shrubberies, with its iron railings and locked gates; and in this respect — albeit Tiverton Square is rounded at all four corners and apart from this irregularity, forms an elongated parallelogram — we and the residents have nothing whatever to complain of.

This book is due back on Thursday, with no more renewals, and I have nothing whatever to complain of either, since I've now had it out from the college library for about two-and-a-half years. :)  I borrowed it soon after I learned about it on Thomas' blog — after I had finally read, and loved, Greenery Street — and if you wanted to just go over there for a sec, I hope you can see why it was irresistible, especially after you see his map.  

Denis Mackail is Angela Thirkell's brother, and there's a family resemblance in their writing. We're in London, c. 1930 (at least that's when the novel was published), and the Square{'s} circle is the group of people living in the brown brick and stucco houses ranged around this private garden.  Through a very omniscient and rather snarky narrator, we meet the residents as most of them are returning home from their August holidays, and each chapter tells us all about the London weather and what happens to the residents during one of the 12 months that follow.  There are young lovers and middle-aged 'old fools,' a young spinster, an elderly gossip, a not-quite-respectable former actress, young parents, small children and teenagers, an aristocratic lady and a respected judge. There's gentle humor about unsuitable attachments and dull dinner parties, and just pages and pages {almost too many} of calm, peaceful, vintage nonsense, which was exactly what I was hoping for. :)

(The painting is Berkeley Square (1935), by Stanislawa de Karlowska, found here.}


Claire (The Captive Reader) said...

Sounds perfect! I've read three of Mackail's books now and enjoyed them all - this is still on the TBR list but I look forward to tracking down a copy one day.

Lisa said...

First off, can I express my amazement and awe of your library skills, in having the book out so long? My longest record is only a year, and I only managed that because the library had two copies, which I kept checking out in rotation - so not technically the same book.

I have Greenery Street on the TBR stacks - but now I want to read this one instead. Maybe I can get it through ILL now :D

Terra said...

I did not know Angela Thirkell had a brother who is a talented writer. I read two of her novels this year and plan to read more.

Thomas Hogglestock said...

I think you may be suggesting it could have used some editing. That was one of my thoughts for sure. For my "non-artist's" rendition of the square and a list of who lived where on the square, here is a link to the post of mine you reference. I can't believe you have had the book in your possession that long.

JoAnn said...

Two and a half years???? I am in complete awe.

Also, I had no ideas Denis Mackail was Angela Thirkell's brother.

Thank you for visiting!

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