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My Life in Houses

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  224 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
'I was born on May 25, 1938, in the front bedroom of house in Orton Road, on the outer edges of Raffles, a council estate. I was a lucky girl.'

So begins Margaret Forster's journey through the houses she's lived in, from that sparkling new council house, built as part of a utopian vision by Carlisle City Council, to her beloved London house of today.

This is not a book about
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Hardcover, 264 pages
Published November 6th 2014 by Chatto & Windus
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Bettie☯
Nov 27, 2014 Bettie☯ rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: BBC Radio Listeners
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paul  Perry
A very light book, Forster's review of her life through the houses she has lived in - starting with being born in a council house in Cumbria - is evocative but short on substance, although this may, in part, be to do with the abridgment for the radio. It felt more like a a lengthened piece from a Sunday supplement than a book in its own right, with details of where the author has lived and how it affected her life, with personal details (the relative poverty of her childhood, scholarship to ...more
Carol
Oct 01, 2016 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thoroughly enjoyed this personal and moving account of Margaret Forster's life, as told through the various houses and flats she lived in. Although she holds much of her personal life back, to focus on the houses and their restoration and impact on her, subtle elements slip through. This makes it as much about her life, and death, as the houses she lived in. The idea of a home as a sanctuary really appealed to me and is something I can relate to. I just wish I had her money and could afford to ...more
Stuart
Jan 26, 2015 Stuart rated it liked it
Like stepping into a sepia photograph. Discovering grans tin of buttons. A stroll down memory lane. Forster writing nostalgia at its warmest. I am a big lover of all writings HOME themed (The Shell House, Blackbird House, Housekeeping, I Capture the Castle) and I immediately felt at home with MLIH. I wanted to walk into the kitchen at Orton Road, sit down with a cup of tea and tell the family about my day. A late comer to Forsters works. My mother being an avid reader of her works I come a ...more
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the Week:
Margaret Forster's journey through the houses she has lived in and loved.
Helen Hanschell Pollock
A sad last book. I like her writing, a steady flow as if she was sitting with you.
Catherine Boardman
Sep 27, 2016 Catherine Boardman rated it it was amazing
My Brother sent me a parcel of books for my birthday, what nicer present is there? MY LIFE IN HOUSES was in the parcel. Margaret Forster has written a memoir based not on the big outward facing events of her life but her homes. Starting with a neat house on a large new council estate built to replace the overcrowded slums of Carlisle, we follow her as she grows up and moves away from the North.

She was a clever girl and got a scholarship to Oxford where she moved out of her rooms in College as s
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Kay Fender
Sep 28, 2016 Kay Fender rated it liked it
This book was a sort of autobiography and I found it an enjoyable read. I like Margaret Forster's gentle style of writing and I was at a time when I needed an unstressful book to read, this was perfect. I had recently bought a copy of "The Life Changing Art of Tidying" but actually found that Margaret's descriptions of her lovely, welcoming homes gave me more inspiration to sort out my own house than Marie Kondo's book. I read Good Wives many years ago but having enjoyed this I'll put more ...more
Michael Tweed
Oct 01, 2016 Michael Tweed rated it really liked it
A splendid simple idea for a book, charmingly done by the late Margaret Forster.
Kathryn
I discovered Fosterer as a writer when I read Lady’s Maid which is one of my favourite books and therefore from the outset I looked high had high hopes for this book. Whilst reading this book I found out that Margret Forster had died, which made it very bittersweet reading, partially towards the end when she is describing her cancer treatment. The concept of telling an autobiography from the point of view of the houses that the author lived in at the time was original and one I found enjoyed b ...more
Sian
Mar 28, 2016 Sian rated it really liked it
A very slight book, that I can't help but think wouldn't have been published if it had been written by anyone but Forster! But despite that, I really liked it. Having only recently bought our first home, I really enjoyed Forsters thoughts about what makes a house a home. It's also interesting in light of the British 'obsession' with house ownership that the broadsheets are always going on about - Forster only lived in 4 houses before buying her first (and forever) home with several holiday ...more
Robyn
Sep 10, 2016 Robyn rated it really liked it
It took me a while to get into this book but I like the concept and found myself more and more engaged with Forster's journey, with the way that houses have become homes and woven their way into her heart, with the way that her story is woven into the houses. For a housesitter and a nomad, it has helped me reflect in a different way on how the many houses I live in shape my own reality, helped me reflect on my own path through the world.
Jo
Jan 13, 2015 Jo rated it really liked it
This is a lovely hardback edition and one I'm glad to have on my shelves. I've been a fan of Margaret Forster's writing for a long time and this memoir didn't disappoint.

I enjoyed the earlier sections of the book best, when Margaret Forster talks about the homes of her childhood, as a student in Oxford, the rented flat she shared with Hunter Davies in Heath Villas Hampstead and the big old wreck of a house they bought in Dartmouth Park. I could picture the interiors of those houses so clearly as
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Yolande
Feb 04, 2015 Yolande rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book at the outset. Because I have read so many of Margaret Forster's novels it was interesting to read this autobiography, written from the point of view of the houses she was living in. I liked this approach because I subscribe to her view that where you live has a huge influence on how you feel.

By the time I reached the houses she lived in in London, I was more interested than the council house origins of her story, and by the time I reached the end of the story my rating went
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Michele
Feb 22, 2016 Michele rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016
Margaret Forster could write. I will miss her. A beautiful, thought provoking book. I always feel she gives of herself and you learn a little too.
I passed her home in the Lakes in the summer of 2007; Hunter, he husband was busy outside cutting the grass. Little did I know that she was recovering from the damage that cancer can do.
It was a beautiful day and I had taken my mother for a little drive to that most lovely of valleys. Strange to think that as we age we take leave of places; I am glad
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Julie
May 30, 2015 Julie rated it liked it
This is indeed a charming little book. Author Margaret Forster writes about each of the houses she has lived in over the years, telling us not only about the dwellings, but about the years of her life. The homes she grew up in, the house with a live in tenant that they lived in when first married, the tax haven in Portugal, the cottage in the lake district and the London house that has been mostly home for the past few decades.

It did make me want to figure out how many houses I have lived in - o
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John
Jun 03, 2016 John rated it really liked it
This is a lovely little book, 264 pages with wide margins and deep line spacing. I read it in two sittings of about 2 hours each. I had never read any Margaret Forster, although my wife loves her writing, but this book was chosen for our book group. She writes beautifully and evocatively of her homes. Perhaps it aided my enjoyment that her upbringing was not that dissimilar to my own and that the last house in the sequence is in the same postcode as ours and is similar in structure. The final ...more
Barbara
May 13, 2016 Barbara rated it it was amazing
An autobiography based around the different houses in which Margaret Forster lived, from the council house where she was born to the London house in which she was living at the end of this book, which describes her relationship with each of the houses. I found this fascinating, both as an account of her life and of the times in which she lived and the way that houses and their use changed throughout that time.

I also found her description of suffering from cancer really struck a bell with me. It'
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Wsclai
Mar 24, 2015 Wsclai rated it really liked it
It is the first book I read that is about a person's house. It's interesting how one loves and hates a flat/house that he/she dwells in. Now I get to know that each flat/house does have its own unique ambiance and it contains all the good and bad memories of the resident. Like what Margaret Forster said, 'The house might disappear, but what it has represented (history & memories) cannot. The building, the bricks and mortar, are not important, surely.' I will try looking at my humble flat ...more
Dorothy Flaxman
Mar 16, 2016 Dorothy Flaxman rated it really liked it
What a clever way to structure a memoir. The author has shared her marriage, work, motherhood and her illness through the houses she has lived in. Basically, the book demonstrates the life of a working class girl making good and how this is reflected in the houses she lives in.
Margaret Forster was diagnosed with cancer at quite a young age and as her illness progresses, her home becomes a refuge. The fact that she passed away recently makes the book all the more poignant.
A gentle, thoughtful and
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Zoe Obstkuchen
Jun 17, 2015 Zoe Obstkuchen rated it really liked it
Since I first read a book of hers in my early teens I have enjoyed her writing, even though I am convinced I wouldn't like her if I met her. I enjoyed this a great deal, I like twists on the usual biography and as someone who loves buildings dearly it was the perfect mix for me. I would have liked some photos of the buildings to have been included.
Jester
May 27, 2016 Jester rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My only regret of this book is that is is not longer.

This book was a trial, the first book I found and downloaded onto my fire tablet. I relished it, growing up with parents who bought and nurtured homes through sympathetic renovation I too have spring feelings about how the fabric of a home wraps itself around you.
Liz Gray
Sep 19, 2015 Liz Gray rated it really liked it
Forster has written a book that I have often thought of writing myself--a history of her life as told through the stories of the houses in which she has lived. It's a quick and very evocative read. If your surroundings matter to you, if they affect your mood and your quality of life, you'll enjoy this book.
Deborah J
Jul 10, 2016 Deborah J rated it it was ok
A gentle read, bought on a whim. A nice idea that never really catches fire, perhaps because the writer was ill at the time. Even as someone who thinks they share Forster’s attachment and respect for bricks and mortar, and agrees about the importance of environment and place, I can’t say it was that interesting.
Dzsmith
Jan 30, 2016 Dzsmith rated it liked it
I enjoyed the descriptions of the houses and what they had meant to the author at different stages of her life. However I found it frustrating that other members of her family appeared very shadowy - lodgers and landlords at various stages were more vividly described.
Pippa Tolfts
Jul 29, 2016 Pippa Tolfts rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Very easy to read book, tracing the writers life through the houses she has lived in. Particular liked the sections about her early life in a council house-very similiar to the one my parents presently live in. Sad ending as she succumbs to reccuring cancer
Linda Watkinson
Jul 23, 2016 Linda Watkinson rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this. Written not so long before she died. I very much related to her feelings about houses and not being able to relax and work or play if the house was 'not right' this was not about expensive decoration or tidiness but about a much more in definable sense of 'rightness'.
Linda Seymour
May 05, 2016 Linda Seymour rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love Margaret Forster's writing and feel bereft to know she's died so there will be no more. This is a cosy read, telling the tales of her various homes but with plenty of autobiography thrown in . Read it quickly, want some more.
Emma
Apr 01, 2016 Emma rated it really liked it
Classic Margaret Forster. Full of human interest and fascinating incidental details. A lovely read.
Linda Seymour
May 05, 2016 Linda Seymour rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this as I do all Margaret Forster's work. It's a comfy, easy read with details of her life as well as her thoughts on houses. Quite sad at the end, knowing this was almost her last book.
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Margaret Forster was educated at the Carlisle and County High School for Girls. From here she won an Open Scholarship to Somerville College, Oxford where in 1960 she was awarded an honours degree in History.

From 1963 Margaret Forster worked as a novelist, biographer and freelance literary critic, contributing regularly to book programmes on television, to Radio 4 and various newpapers and magazin
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