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The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House Between the Wars There is nothing quite as beautiful as an English country house in summer And there has never been a summer quite like that Indian summer between the two world wars, a period of gentle decline in which the sun set slowly on the British Empire and the shadows lengthened on the lawns of a thousand stately homesReal life in the country house during the s and s was not always so sunny By turns opulent and ordinary, noble and vicious, its shadows were darker In The Long Weekend, Adrian Tinniswood uncovers the truth about a world half forgotten, draped in myth and hidden behind stiff upper lips and film star smiles Drawing on hundreds of memoirs, on unpublished letters and diaries, on the eye witness testimonies of belted earls and unhappy heiresses and bullying butlers, The Long Weekend gives a voice to the people who inhabited this world In a definitive social history which combines anecdote and narrative with scholarship, it brings the stately homes of England to life, giving readers an insight into the guilt and the gingerbread, and showing how the image of the country house was carefully protected by its occupants above and below stairs, and how the reality was so much interesting than the dream The Long Weekend isn t really about life in the English Country House Between the Wars though the opening chapter gives a sense of how weekend parties were conducted and there are later chapters about country sports and servants lives Instead, the author focuses on the changing architecture of Country Houses during the reign of George V including reinterpretations of medieval castles, modernism and a revived interest in Georgian architecture There are also fascinating chapters about the r The Long Weekend isn t really about life in the English Country House Between the Wars though the opening chapter gives a sense of how weekend parties were conducted and there are later chapters about country sports and servants lives Instead, the author focuses on the changing architecture of Country Houses during the reign of George V including reinterpretations of medieval castles, modernism and a revived interest in Georgian architecture There are also fascinating chapters about the role of the royal family in country house culture of the time For example, the future Edward VIII s enthusiasm for golf made golf courses a prominent new innovation for country house gardens of the time period A enjoyable read This is Downton Abbey with the boring bits left in and the interesting bits removed as they had been sold off to Julian Fellowes for his tv show Not really, but it reads like that If you love to read about rich people and how they lived their lives always putting their social lives before work, if they worked at all, and you love looking up names of people you ve never heard of, then you will love this book.It isn t about life in these beautiful old stately homes, it s about parties, who was This is Downton Abbey with the boring bits left in and the interesting bits removed as they had been sold off to Julian Fellowes for his tv show Not really, but it reads like that If you love to read about rich people and how they lived their lives always putting their social lives before work, if they worked at all, and you love looking up names of people you ve never heard of, then you will love this book.It isn t about life in these beautiful old stately homes, it s about parties, who was invited where, who they were, what they did eat, shoot, change clothes a lot but mostly who they were and often what they thought of each other and the sort of effortlessly upper class manners expected of them Don t call on weekdays to respond to invitations, dreadfully lower class This is most of the third paragraph of the book In November 1934, for example, the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire entertained twenty guests at Chatsworth for one of their grandest parties Guests of honor were the Princess Royal and the Earl of Harewood, who hadn t visited since 1921 when the earl, then Viscount Lascelles, proposed to his princess Shooting parties were laid on for the Saturday and the Monday, and the Devonshires invited a glittering gaggle of acquaintances for the weekend to meet the royal couple, including the Duke and Duchess of Portland from Welbeck Abbey, the Marquess and Marchioness of Londonderry, art historian Kenneth Clark, and Conservative politician Lord Hugh Cecil.The fourth paragraph contains another 13 people, several of the women are dismissed as and his wife though The fifth has another five names the sixth has six names plus and their wives Some of the people are remarkably uninteresting Loelia Ponsonby only had one chiffon evening dress and had to repair her dancing shoes, oh dear Thelma Converse travelled down to Marmaduke Furness s shooting lodge on a train with him and his staff, valet, three footmen and two housemaids who prepared an extravagant dinner for them in a train compartment What No plover s eggs She complained Only the guests are written about The large numbers of workers, the housemaids, cooks, valets and other support staff are invisible to us, probably as they were to the guests unless there is an anecdote to relate where the staff were involved with the guests I fell asleep reading it and when I woke up I thought there is a great, glorious world of books out there for me to read, why am I wasting time on this The Long Weekend is an insider look at English country houses during the time period of 1918 1939 A lot of this is a Who s Who of houses pretty much anything you would want to know about who purchased certain houses, when, and how they changed them It focused a good bit as well on what a typical long weekend involved I would ve loved evenof this kind of info andpics When I visited England 4 years ago and had a chance to go through Warwick Castle, my curiosity was first piq The Long Weekend is an insider look at English country houses during the time period of 1918 1939 A lot of this is a Who s Who of houses pretty much anything you would want to know about who purchased certain houses, when, and how they changed them It focused a good bit as well on what a typical long weekend involved I would ve loved evenof this kind of info andpics When I visited England 4 years ago and had a chance to go through Warwick Castle, my curiosity was first piqued about these long weekends especially after hearing about Daisy s escapades I really enjoyed this one though and will probably refer back to it often with questions about specifics I would definitely readworks by the author It was obvious a lot of research and time went into writing compiling this book Many thanks to NetGalley and Basic Books for an advance readers copy Those nice people at Netgalley and Basic Books sent a free e copy of this book Both life and house appear in the title, but it sabout house than life , including architecture, sales, renovations, remodeling, redecorating, which aristo hired and later fired which architect, and which magazine critic praised or savaged which design This book begins entertainingly e.g., jewel thieves mistaken for bed hopping aristos, virtuous English maid servants successfully defending their honor Those nice people at Netgalley and Basic Books sent a free e copy of this book Both life and house appear in the title, but it sabout house than life , including architecture, sales, renovations, remodeling, redecorating, which aristo hired and later fired which architect, and which magazine critic praised or savaged which design This book begins entertainingly e.g., jewel thieves mistaken for bed hopping aristos, virtuous English maid servants successfully defending their honor against rakish Italian man servants, pet monkeys causing great damage to dignified old mansions After the first chapters, there s a long time spent on details of the interiors and exteriors of the stately homes, many of which are characterized in an uncomplimentary fashion, and tend to blur together It s worth persisting until after the half way point, when the book picks up and becomes less about molding andabout people esp rich Americans, homosexuals, servants, and politicians, in that order.The author assumes a lot of knowledge of UK geography and the lives of members of high society I think some of the references will bewilder the colonial reader Example I didn t feel bad at all about not knowing who Stephen Tennant and Sibyl Colefax l 86 were, especially when I found that Tennant, when alive, was apparently famous for being famous without an discernible talent for anything except decadence, sort of like the Kardashians today The author apparently approves of mannerist decoration l 527 , canopy la polonaise l 724 and carved work in the style of Grinling Gibbons l 953 , among other things, but those of us with inadequate colonial education will have to break from the text to find out what exactly these are In these days of instant voice search, that s not a great inconvenience, but authors should try not to drive their readers away to other distractions if possible.Since this is a galley proof, I d like to suggest that maybe future editions can have a comprehensive cast of characters section at the beginning, esp as people sometimes change their names as they acquire titles and honors A glossary of architectural decorating terms wouldn t hurt either Maybe this is too much of a bother, but I ve always felt that non fiction books would besuccessful if they tried to accommodate those of us who don t know so much This book will probably beenjoyable in its paper book format, because the pictures of home interiors will almost undoubtedly clearer and easier to examine at close range in a paper book The fault here is the Kindle s, not the author s or publisher s.There was some fun reading, for example Perhaps the earliest documented use of the term week end then hyphenated dates from 1879 l 76 A British Prime Minster of the 1930s was scandalized when he attended a party frequented by ladies with painted toe nails l 226 the king tore him off a strip l 848 is what the British say because they are too respectful of their sovereign and perhaps the reader to write the king tore him a new asshole On one occasion Sassoon was supposed to have have the Union Jack lowered from its flagpole because he felt its colors clashed with the sunset l 1318 The future Queen Elizabeth II first met her husband when she was eight, when her uncle married his cousin l 2267 Here are some choice bits of abuse, inspired by a particularly loathsome member of the aristocracy, to hold somewhere in your mind for the time, inevitably, you will need them Harold Nicolson described her as a fat slug filled with venom Cecil Beaton called her a galumphing, greedy, snobbish old toad who watered her chops at the sight of royalty and Leonie Leslie, Winston Churchill s aunt, said she would rather have an open sewer flowing through her drawing room than entertain said loathsome aristo l 2343 Truely, it was the golden age of invective the 5th Earl of Gosford deserted his ancestral seat of Gosford Castle in County Armagh, his wife, Mildred, the daughter of the US minister to Rumania, and his teenaged son and went to New York, where he married a wealthy divorcee, set up a wine shop in Manhattan, and joined the NYPD l 2564 To this information, my reaction was Wait, what More detail, please Everybody likes their party to go with a swing although few would go as far as Chips Cannon, who put Benzedrine in the cocktails at a formal dinner he gave for the queens of Spain and Rumania l 2906.Reading a galley proof can be a little tricky At one point l 3083 , aristo X claims to have seen the late aristo Y shooting 2 rhinos from the back of an elephant in Nepal Directly after, the text reads Are there rhinos in the HimalayasNo answer is given in the text, but a moment s research reveals that rhinos are not native to the Himalayas Was the parenthetical a note by the author or editor to check a fact Or was it snark Sorry, I lack the breeding to tell on my own.See a complimentary review of this book from the May 7, 2016, edition of The Economist here

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