As a lover of period dramas need I mention Downton Abbey I was anxious to sink my teeth into a book tracing the history of a country estateI had time this weekend and purposely had kept this book to have a ood relaxing read with a lass of sherry and classical music in the background Then I started the book What a disappointmentIt was a collection of vignettes highlighting the history of the house from 1775 to the present Wilhide failed to tie the components together with any depth The bits were too short and not detailed enough to evoke any true interest in the charactersI ot it that the main character was the house However instead of developing the house as a character it seemed to me the Wilhide s main purpose was to impress us with her knowledge of architectural details Perhaps it was written as a homage to her architect husband the jacket makes a point of referring to her marriage to an architect husbandToo bad I really thought this sounded like the kind of book that would be right up my street but unfortunately I found it didn t meet my expectation and was in all in all a bit of a disappointmentIt s the story of a country house built in the Palladian style and the people who live in it To be honest I found it rather dreary and depressing and the house never really seems properly loved and seen in all its Bulletproof Feathers: How Science Uses Nature's Secrets to Design Cutting-Edge Technology glory Each chapter is a separate short story or vignette often trying to link characters from one to the other to try and keep a sense of continuity but not always working So many of the character were just plain unpleasant and if there was someone you did want to know something about well you are bound to be disappointed Life isn t all roses but this just seemed to have too much unhappiness and misfortune in it also some of the architecture of the house is described inreat detail but I never felt it strong enough to be a character in the book as I expected A friend of mine recently dealt with the sale of her childhood home dating to the late 1700 s disposingrelocating her 100 year old mother s 70 years of collections memories sagging floors failing heating system faulty wiring all within the constraints of the local historical preservation society Against all odds a young man and his partner bought the house and is restoring it honoring its past affirming its place in the future and I can t imagine the costAll this is to establish a context for this novel I stumbled across and could not stop reading The details of building deterioration and rebuilding are revealed in words and images that only this author so knowledgeable about design and architecture could write about so skillfullyFrom 1775 2010 from the initial architect family extended staff those whose eyes were focused on family and those on avarice self serving residents by design or accident this is a novel rich in history intrigue and humanity The earliest stages transporting the stone from Bath and drying it appropriately for cutting and building captured my attention The use of the magnificent house by family and military with the author s knowledge of history enriched the plot The house contains time Its walls hold stories but what is missing are the people to inhabit it The house slips through the fingers of the family who commissioned it slips right away from them foreverand in the nick of time saved an ominous blood pulses but the house which is serving honor and is saving it Beginning in 1775 each chapter captured the social s politics and the universal human issues of the period Some chapters were brief enough to surface narrow thinking and prejudice and others broad enough to explain so much How na ve we are in the US about what is involved for a nation to heal from war fought on its soil physically and emotionally the impact of a bomb detonated years after the war s end the lives changed the stately homes damaged far beyond what England s National Trust can
Assume For Responsibility And Debt In The for responsibility and debt In the war was the challenge not simply the passage of time The human cost of war seems overwhelming to consider one s responsibility to save artifacts is overwhelming to me Yet here saving a history in the end prevailed 35 A decidedly different kind of book and I liked it a lot Copied down several uotes that I wanted to remember I do wish I had made notes about the various people who were part of the house s history as there were so many connections from period to period One of the things I liked most was the way each chapter began with a paragraph that almost felt like it was from the house s point of view or maybe from the pov of history Those sections have such an otherworldly feel almost a peaceful feeling that despite human frailties the world and art live on The human stories were all interesting but never allowed you to become too involved before history moved on to the next era Excellent Really 45 I reviewed this book for wwwluxuryreadingcomAfter their elderly aunt dies and leaves them her large country estate of Ashenden Charlie and his sister Ros move into the home to determine whether they should keep it or sell it The estate is in uite a state of disrepair and neither Charlie a photographer living in New York or Ros a doctor living outside of Reading can afford to keep itWeaved into the center of Charlie and Ros story line is the house s history and that of its occupants It s the human experience with all its highs and lows unfolding around the stone and mortar of the home iving life and breath to what otherwise would remain
Inanimate Without The People There Without the people there be no Ashenden and without Ashenden s influence the people wouldn t be the sameAshenden is unlike any other novel I have read before and I found it thoroughly captivating The author obviously has a reat knowledge and love of architecture and design and it shines through the descriptions of the estate and its surroundings like a proud parent talking about a beloved child It was a wholly original experience to see how the house left its mark on each person that came into contact with it and on the flip side how each person influenced the estate whether that be for better or worse There was continuity from one Charlestown Blues generation to the next showing how the various occupants left their mark either physically or figuratively and influenced the ones that followed This perspective really helped me feel immers. A novel about people a country estate and living history The house contains time Its walls hold stories Births and deaths comings andoings people and events passing through For now however it lies suspended in a kind of emptiness as if it has fallen asleep or someone has put it under a spell This silence won't last can't last Something will have to be doneWhen brother and. ,
Gent witty and subtle If you re a fan of Downton Abbey you ll most certainly enjoy Ashenden However it is also likely to appeal to fans of historical fiction social observation and intelligent writing Ashenden A Novel by Elizabeth WilhideWhen Downton Abbey finished its third season I needed that English Manor fix and I found Ashenden a new book by Elizabeth Wilhide This is her first novel though she is the author of than twenty books on interior design and architecture And her love of those subjects shines in this book where the main character is an old manor Yes a manor home is the main character So while Downton Abbey might focus on the upstairs downstairs human life Ashenden focuses on how life connected to the manorEach chapter in the book is a different time period in Ashenden s life So we follow from the manor home s infancy as the first building materials arrive and are put into place to the present as it has aged sometimes Charlestown Blues: Selected Poems, a Bilingual Edition gracefully but other times not soracefully As I moved through the book I began to really care for Ashenden and would keep on hoping that it would make it through another owner or event in fine shape And the manor home did bloom and wilt as its presence touched various owners servants or nearby townsmen And what is interesting is that certain characters and their families will skip in and out of the various stories through the years either as a minor character or the focus character of the specific chapterThe book starts in 2010 with siblings Charlie and Roz suddenly finding themselves owners by inheritance of the huge old and now neglected Ashenden Park They have come to the manor to decide its fate and end up arguing over whether to sell it or keep it Like any other Building the South Side grand old home the upkeep is astronomical and worse the National Trust can t afford to take it over When Roz discovers a large stash of the manor s history in their uncle s old desk the real story begins We jump to 1775 and James Woods an accomplished Yorkshire architect has been hired to build a fine Palladian stone manor in the countryside by Sir Frederick More an impoverished aristocrat Money is always tight but Woods doesn t skimp on the details or on the materials including the beautiful yellow bath stone that will make up the skin of the manor From there we follow Ashenden into 1796 with the More family problems coming to a crisis and then 1844 with a new family the Henderson s trying to breath new life into an incomplete Ashenden The family and the manor blossom until with another chapter the year 1889 brings servant problems We then jump to 1909 and while the manor has passed into a neweneration of Henderson s money is again the problem due to aristocratic style Bright College Years gambling The years keep coming and the manor takes on new forms 1916 and a World War I officer hospital 1929 and the roaring 20 s party with a new owner 1938 and the bank crashes 1946 and World War II 1951 brings the Lyells as new owners 1966 and formerlory 1976 era of protests and then back to 2010 with Charlie and Roz continuing to wonder if this is the last chance for a very old and once again neglected manorThe description of the manor starts each chapter and Chicagos Urban Nature gives a hint to the subject of that year As an example the description at the start of the 1951 chapter describes how many of thereat homes are too expensive to manage and so are ultimately disappearing There are many ways of killing a house You can set fire to it you can flood it you can tear it down to et your hands on the land where it stands Or you can pulverize it with bombs which is how two million homes have been lost in the blitz These are uick methods Slower methods work just as well in The Long Term And Reuire Absolutely No Effort Nothing That long term and reuire absolutely no effort Nothing that all you have to do Let nature take its course It will Nature is strong enough to topple stone iven time All around the country the Chicago's Urban Nature: A Guide to the City's Architecture + Landscape great houses are dying Four or five a week and their deaths are slow and lingering The house reaches it s zenith in 1966 and the manor home is described as follows Lavender clings to laundered sheets folded on the cedar shelves of the linen closet Vases of velvety roses sit on tables polished with beeswax On summer evenings the sweet perfume of night scented stocks drifts through open windows blended with the astringency of cutrass the sharp acid twist of lemon in a in and tonic From the kitchen com warm savory aromas of bread coffee and roast chicken which mingle with a faint hint of wood smoke and damp dog Contentment order and well being the house smells of it Breathes it in Inhales and exhales Lastly it is the winter of 2010 and Reggie the last and longest owner of the manor knows it is time for her to leave this world She recognizes the connection of past lives to Ashenden including herself If these are hosts they are friendly ones who slip past in the thin cold air and leave no disturbance or sadness behind s the entlest form of haunting really a smile fading from a face or a
Forgotten Tune In The tune playing in the room Ghosts are only to be expected when the house contains so much time So much of your own life too over half a century The house is your skin your memory your thoughts It s family all that you ve loved The author in acknowledgments notes that Ashenden is actually based on a real manor Basildon Park in Berkshire Basildon Park is part of the National Trust unlike poor Ashenden since 1978 and can be found at this link Ashenden is a charming historical read that concerns itself with the enerations of owners and servants living in a manor house built in the English countryside in 1775 Beginning in the present when siblings Charlie and Ros inherit Ashenden upon the death of their Communism great aunt it meanders back to when its foundations were first carefully chosen and laid Charlie and his sister must decide whether to sell it or keep it for futureenerations of their family to enjoy Charlie is happily married and settled in the United States and sees the expense of the old mansion as prohibitive but Ros is determined to save it and has mapped out what she thinks is a plausible plan for its restorationWilhide fills the story with history and atmosphere the novel and its vignettes show the house in war time poverty and at the height of its How to Read the American City Close Up glory Even as Ashenden the novel explores how former owners haveained and lost the hous. Or their own ends Each chapter is skillfully woven into the others so that the story lines of the upstairs and downstairs characters and their relatives and descendants intertwine to make a rich tapestry A beautifully written novel full of humor heart and poignancy Ashenden is an evocative portrait of a house that becomes a character as compelling as the people who inhabit.
Elizabeth Wilhide å 4 SummaryEd in the estate s history and to feel present in the lives of the people surrounding it Another uniue and interesting perspective is how Ashenden went beyond the changes with the house and its occupants to show how it fit in with the changes happening in England as a whole over the course of the life of the estate For examples when the wealth and influence of the titled began to decline so did Ashenden the rise of self made fortunes saw the rise in Asheden s Catholics, Anglicans, and Puritans glory and with the destruction and decay brought on by the two World Wars came the decay of the estate It is an incredible way to track the progress of one small part against the backdrop of the whole of a country There is so much for a reader to love about Ashenden Anyone interested in English history architecture or the human experience both upstairs and downstairs would enjoy this book I can t imagine someone not finding something to enjoy in its layered story lines and I will for one miss my time spent at Ashenden Basildon Park is an actual Georgian mansion with acres of lawn andardens which was rescued from ruin in the mid 1950s If you read this book about a house called Ashenden you are essentially reading about Basildon Park If you saw the Keira Knightley version of Pride and Prejudice this house hosted the Netherfield Ball The author formerly has written decorating books this is her first novel The whole story about the building of the house finding and transporting the immense Bath stones needed to create it and then narratives of all the families who have owned and worked at the manor since its completion I found simply fascinating Some stories were better than others but all held my attention and contained uniue and well developed characters Ashenden being the main one We ve all heard how England s castles fell into ruin due to the expensive upkeep well so did the large manor homes We have the builder lovingly taking on the huge difficult project that was Ashenden and then the home through the years 1775 2010 Consumed: Food for a Finite Planet going from owner to owner falling into disrepair serving as a hospital during WWI then a POW camp during WWII finally being restored again years later and now in present day with Charles and his sister having inherited the money pitrappling with what to do with it The author s writing flowed well and I appreciated her sly wit Thank you oodreads First Reads for this very excellent book It s funny how a book can sometimes find you during just the right set of days I usually read one book a week and end up starting a new one over the weekend Last Sunday having finished all of the available books in Phillip Rock s Passing Bells trilogy and craving books along the lines of big English country house stories I remembered that I had an advance e alley of yet another book marketed to Downton Abbey lovers As much as I love Downton Abbey the comparison to Ashenden isn t fair and I suspect will lead many readers to underestimate and even pass over this orgeously written novel in stories The novel begins uite slowly with the rather underwritten brother and sister Charlie and Ros who have just inherited the over two hundred year old house from their childless aunt I actually started this book a few months ago when I first received it and didn t continue due to my disinterest in the first chapter Fortunately I pressed on
this time around and ot to the second chapter that oes backtime around and ot to the second chapter that Contested Reproduction: Genetic Technologies, Religion, and Public Debate goes back the construction of the house in 1775 I expected a kind of Edward Rutherfurdallop across history but instead felt as though I was reading a very Cop Knowledge: Police Power and Cultural Narrative in Twentieth-Century America good collection of short stories all loosely linked by place and poetic connections across time Wilhide wisely doesn t overdo theenealogical connections between stories breaking up the ownership of the house while subtly alluding to the passage of time and Dealing with Risk: Why the Public and the Experts Disagree on Environmental Issues generations The main treat here is the beautiful writing each story somehow capturing the language of each time from 1775 to 1844 to 1909 to 1976 The stories are aood combination of bitter and sweet and have a breathtaking sense of the passage of time and both the permanence and impermance of life The writing was uietly poetic without being over bearing such as in this passage set in 1966 Lavender clings to laundered sheets folded on the cedar shelves of linen closets Vases of velvety roses sit on tables polished with beeswax On summer evenings the sweet perfume of nightscented stocks drifts through open windows I happened to be reading this book
during a time of incredible stress and upset at work it was a very reala time of incredible stress and upset at work it was a very real to come home to these stories and contemplate a deeper sense of life As with any collection of short stories Ashenden is being marketed as a novel for fans of Downton Abbey This is accurate in regards to the novel s focus on a Dancing at Armageddon: Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times grand old house and its inhabitants However it is also than simply arand house and a rand family The novel is composed of a series of short stories involving the inhabitants of all social standing of the house Each story is linked by characters and of course the house itselfElizabeth Wilhide is an acclaimed author on design and interiors This is evident in the wonderful way she handled the detail and presence of Ashenden estate The house in the novel is based on the resurrection of Basildon Park which is Netherfield Hall in 2005 s Pride and Prejudice Given her background in non fiction it is pleasantly surprising how well she handles the human aspect of the novel The characters are not just the previous owners of Ashenden they can be anyone who novel The characters are not just the previous owners of Ashenden they can be anyone who connected with the house sons daughters housekeepers soldiers etcWhen someone died you missed their physical presence first the warmth in the bed all the tones and shadings of their speech the footsteps or sighs or rustlings in the next room even the irritations and annoyances You missed these things as if your skin had been peeled off in long bleeding strips When all that became less painful you still missed their mind the consciousness that partnered with yours that ave you bifocal visionWhile the novel is not necessarily memorable it is very enjoyable Within the story the house bears witness to two and a half centuries The reader Deceptive Beauties: The World of Wild Orchids gets vignettes of history and society through the eyes of the residents Theselimpses provide evocative and intriguing insights into modern British history The writing is intelli. Sister Charlie and Ros discover that they have inherited their aunt's rand English country house they must decide if they should sell it As they survey the effects of time on the the estate's architectural treasures a narrative spanning two and a half centuries unfolds We meet those who built the house lived in it and loved it worked in it and those who would subvert it