2013: Ashenden

"Winter has been hard on the house, the bitter cold eating into the honey-colored stonework, causing portions of the facade to crumble and flake away."

Ashenden, Elizabeth Wilhide

     This falls into the book that caught my eye in the library's new book section - which is to say I knew nothing about it except that the cover and flap looked interesting.  It turned out to be a novel about a great house in England - each chapter is about some part of the house's history, and the real plot is how difficult it is to maintain these historic homes - how much money and love and effort has to go into keeping them.  So, if you aren't terribly concerned about whether one mansion in England will survive, this may not be the book for you.  To be fair, the author also includes characters in each chapter who are interesting enough to sustain your interest beyond the house - but they don't necessarily follow from one chapter to another, so if you get invested in, say Florence, the less beautiful but more interesting cousin, you might be disappointed to find out that you barely find out what happens to her (and certainly never learn why she didn't end up marrying the hero of that chapter).  I guess I have mixed feelings about the book - it was an interesting read, well written, and as my gripe above suggests, I liked the characters that she created.  I even, while reading, found myself caring about what happened to the house.  But in the cold light of blogging day, it doesn't seem so important that one fancy mansion in England be preserved, given all the real problems in the world.  I mean, it's such a petty problem in the light of things.  So I don't know what to say about a recommendation - if you like Jane Austen and Downton Abbey (and I do), you might like this - the house in the book is actually based on the mansion that they filmed at least one Pride and Prejudice at (and I think it was the good, Colin Firth one).  Just don't think too hard about what it's really about, I guess.

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017