Book Review: The Long Weekend by Adrian Tinniswood July 02, 2016 08:45
Hello July. It is so nice to see you. A new month and new hope for sunshine and smiles all round! In an attempt to escape from the bleak weather and headlines, I've taken to bringing my own balcony chair inside and enjoying the view of the garden from the window. Throughout the month, my constant companion has been my latest read: "The Long Weekend" by Adrian Tinniswood.
Published earlier this year, the book is a look at the "Indian summer between the world wars, a period of gentle decline" for the British empire and its stately homes. Oh lovely, I thought - a nice, soothing drop of escapism... How wrong was I.
Rather than easing you into a world of debutantes, glamour and glitz, this book drops you like a stone into the middle of a chaotic, spinning top of a world. Forget all that lovely, floaty romantic stuff. This is Blighty in the midst of (yet another) incredibly transformative time. Big country houses are disappearing at the rate of knots. Old families have up sticks and headed for the bright lights of the city. Or overseas. Or both. New ways of living are emerging for those above and below stairs.
This book takes you behind the facade of the grand old country pile and introduces you to the most interesting characters that live life on the inside. A lot of names are familiar - (our early years spent grudgingly stomping around English Heritage and National Trust houses have clearly left their mark), and I found myself having to stop regularly throughout the book, remind myself of who these individuals were, what they did etc... and then go back to the book to find out more. Because of this staccato style of reading, I didn't find the Long Weekend an easy read, but its a fascinating one and perfect for anyone interested in debunking a few myths about a quiet, nostalgic old England...and finding in it's place, an even more colourful, exciting alternative.