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Summer Half

Narrated by: Penelope Freeman
Length: 7 hrs and 48 mins
4.3 out of 5 stars (4 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A captivating comic novel from Angela Thirkell's much-loved 1930s Barsetshire series: trainee barrister Colin Keith makes an ill-advised foray into teaching at Southbridge School.

To his parents' dismay, Colin Keith - out of the noble but misplaced sense of duty peculiar to high-minded young university graduates - chooses to quit his training for the Bar and take a teaching job at Southbridge School.

Little does Colin imagine that he will count among his pupils the demon in human form known as Tony Morland; or that the master's ravishing, feather-brained daughter Rose will, with her flights of fancy and many admirers, spread chaos throughout school and village. Humorous, high-spirited and cleverly observed, Summer Half is a comic delight.

©1937 The Estate of Angela Thirkell (P)2015 Hachette Audio

What listeners say about Summer Half

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  • Douglas
  • 24-08-2016

I Have Taught College English...

for twenty six years, and I have to say Thirkell captures every comical nuance of the teaching profession in this charming novel of the "accidental professor. " Goodbye Mr. Chips after a few shots of scotch.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Suea
  • 18-08-2016

Charming and light, just the way I like it

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, especially for light reading or going to sleep by

What was one of the most memorable moments of Summer Half?

The family interaction over the cleaning of the pond

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Way, way, way too fast! What was she in such a hurry about? A few of the characters spoke extra slowly but these were few and far between and way too slow. Pace is really important to my enjoyment of a book. I found the narrator irritating because of her speed. I had to pay extra attention just to maintain my understanding of the story which detracted from my enjoyment. I won't listen to this reader again.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. It was easy to pick up whenever I needed to.

Any additional comments?

This is not heavy, engrossing material but it is entertaining and offers a look into another world, another time, hardly Jane Austen but a worthwhile read for me.

3 people found this helpful

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  • robert d gregory
  • 09-03-2016

Guilty Pleasure!

Would you consider the audio edition of Summer Half to be better than the print version?

Yes, the reader was wonderful and does the different voices of kids and adults, schoolmasters and servants, clever people and fatheads, so well I laughed 3x as much as I would have reading it for myself

What other book might you compare Summer Half to and why?

Not quite Barbara Pym but definitely Anthony Trollope as Thirkell herself thought, given she named the area Barsetshire.

Which scene was your favorite?

The one where Rose, the spoiled brat, throws a tantrum upstairs, while her father and her fiancé are downstairs discussing the engagement and trying to be serious, ignoring her cheering and the moment when a bath sponge flies out the window

If you could rename Summer Half, what would you call it?

The novel I wished I'd read before I thought I was in love at 16

Any additional comments?

Wonderful reader! If only she'd do Barbara Pym (or Jane Austen for that matter).

2 people found this helpful

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  • TX lilbit
  • 11-06-2020

Love this

One of my favorite cosy books. Angela Thirkell writes boys so well. By today's standards the tween to teenage boys in this book seem really innocent, but it makes sense in the context of the era and prep and public schools, etc. Narrator Penelope Freeman gets Angela Thirkell's humor so well!! The different voices/characters are fantastic. I wish Hatchett would have her do more similar novels, Barbara Pym's especially. Unfortunately the other books she's narrated don't appeal to me, and I can't help thinking they waste her comic talent.

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  • uptowngirl
  • 11-08-2019

Very funny and accurate accents by this narrator.

The narrator does the Barsetshire world of Angela Thirkell, and its between the wars life in country society in England, a tremendous favor by adding wonderfully funny but accurate accents. In particular, the school boys are perfectly delineated and add a great deal of enjoyment to this period piece.

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  • Patricia
  • 13-02-2019

Thirkell makes me laugh.

Her characters are so much fun. Please bring more of her books to Audible; I own all the current list and listen to them when I need stress relief.

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  • Beth B
  • 22-10-2018

Humour and irony

Obviously written in the thirties before the war, it is a window into the lives of various people, both rich and poor. It is a life that stopped during and after the war.

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  • Van Daviss
  • 03-10-2018

The narrator ruins the story

This book is a charming, light comedy of manners. The reader is the worst of any Audible book I have heard. She makes all women and girls speak in a squeaky, babyish voice, regardless of the personalities the author has given them, and she makes all her men sound like little children pretending to be grown-ups. At no time did her voice sound at all natural. I found it so distracting that I stopped listening after about one-third of the book.

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  • James
  • 05-09-2018

Pleasing comedy of bygone England

Essentially a comedy of manners with stock characters, enlivened by the school setting and occasional wit. The narrator gives a finely modulated performance, adroitly catching both female and male voices. The novel does not rise above the ordinary but it’s an entertaining piece nonetheless. Excellent bedtime or mid-afternoon listening.

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  • NanaB
  • 18-07-2018

Excruciating Slow

Because I did enjoy Wild Strawberries, I've tried to find another, but unsuccessfully. It was uninteresting except for the very last chapter when something finally happened. To compare with Trollope is ludicrous. His Barchester is superb, leaving this Barchester so flat it's painful. The only truly good thing is the narration.

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  • LettyBIRD
  • 07-02-2018

Some wonderful characters.

This is the fourth Angela Thirkell book I’ve read this week, and by quite a distance it’s my favourite. The characters are really well drawn, I particularly like the two school boys who treat the school & its masters as a sort of science experiment that they are conducting. Over all I really enjoyed the book, but be warned; the social mores of the age are writ large across the book and these are very interesting if occasionally disconcerting. There are brief, but eye popping bits of casual racism which stopped me in my tracks. In the other Thirkell books I’ve read it’s usually been Jewish people (I’m Jewish) who got it in the neck, but what I’ve noticed is the characters will often say something that to modern readers is awful, but the way it’s said is as if it’s just a statement of fact, not a criticism. No more note worthy to the other characters than if they’d remarked on the weather. The other elements of Thirkell’s books, like the way clever women either downplay their cleverness or are dismissed as not really clever, are fascinating and horrifying in equal measure. I hope that this was written with the author’s tongue firmly in her cheek. I don’t think these moments should put you off reading an otherwise enjoyable book, to me it’s interesting to see how far society has come in 80 years. It’s a vision of Britain that I for one would not like to return to even if endless summers of tennis on the lawn & house parties sound wonderful.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Christopher Leach
  • 07-05-2018

a gentle entertaining read

summer in a preparatory school between the wars. narrator excellent, very good to hear language free from obscenity and violence. characters well drawn living in the last decade of security