Furrowed Middlebrow,Angela Thirkell,Jane Austen,Anthony Trollope,Margery Sharp

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Elizabeth Mary Fair was born in 1908 and brought up in Haigh, a small village in Lancashire, England. There her father was the land agent for Haigh Hall, then occupied by the Earl of Crawford and Balcorres, and there she and her sister were educated by a governess. After her father’s death, in 1934, Miss Fair and her mother and sister removed to a small house with a large garden in the New Forest in Hampshire. From 1939 to 1944, she was an ambulance driver in the Civil Defence Corps, serving at Southampton, England; in 1944 she joined the British Red Cross and went overseas as a Welfare Officer, during which time she served in Belgium, India, and Ceylon.

Miss Fair’s first novel, Bramton Wick, was published in 1952 and received with enthusiastic acclaim as ‘perfect light reading with a dash of lemon in it . . .’ by Time and Tide. Between the years 1953 and 1960, five further novels followed: Landscape in Sunlight, The Native Heath, Seaview House, A Winter Away, and The Mingham Air. All are characterized by their English countryside settings and their shrewd and witty study of human nature.

Elizabeth Fair died in 1997.

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She wondered how Lady Masters got her old parlour maid to carry the coffee right across the lawn. But, of course, Lady Masters got things simply by always having had them and by taking it for granted that she always would have them.

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At the end of the war, Mrs. Midge stayed on. While the war lasted Mrs. Custance had accepted her as part of the war-effort; it was only in the past year or two that Mrs. Midge had been transferred to the category which Mrs. Custance described as “people we could manage without.”

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A widow, at an age when birthdays are best forgotten, with no children to occupy her mind, can be very lonely. Julia Dunstan knew she was more fortunate than most widows, not merely because she was prosperous—as widows go—but because she had always taken an interest in other people.

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“I wonder what Mr. Heritage thought of his godson,” she said quickly.

“Rather clumsy, but quite good manners,” Edith remarked. “And a well-shaped skull.”

These were her own views, but she took it for granted that sensible people would agree with her.

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“My last secretary was thirty-five,” old M. said gloomily, “and no more sense than a child of ten. Or else she wasn’t all there. You all there?” he asked suddenly, giving Maud a searching look. “No banging your head on the table? No throwing the china at me? Hey?”

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“The best thing one can say about the Priory is that it would have made a splendid ruin,” she stated. “If only the Seamarks had left it alone . . .”

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