Cheers for another Thirkell -- our recipe for perfect escape reading these days. Post Dunkirk period -- and an addition to the Thirkell gallery of county characters and mannered comedy in this tale of the Marlings and an assortment of family and friends. The story centers around widowed Lettice and her two suitors, David, quicksilver when it comes to permanent attachments, and Tom, silent but tenderly dependable. There is the hierarchy of nursery and adult factions; there's fervent interest in all phases of war activities; there is juggling of family relationships, near romances, clashes. There are scenes above stairs and below; there are teas, IunoMeons, dinners, parties and Christmas to round out the picture of a gradual awakening on the part of the upper classes that the old way is gone, the new way uncertain. All done with the accepted Thirkell charm, inconsequentiality, humor, with enough bite but no bitterness, and that irresistibly diverting panorama of the foibles and qualities of people that she has made her province.