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Novel Houses: Twenty Famous Fictional Dwellings

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  41 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Many beloved novels have place at their heart—and often even in their title. Novel Houses visits unforgettable dwellings in twenty legendary works of English and American fiction, exploring how Uncle Tom’s Cabin came to start the American Civil War, why Bleak House is used as the name of a happy home, and what Jane Austen had in mind when she worked out the plot for Mansfi ...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published December 19th 2019 by Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
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Beth Bonini
It is, admittedly, something of an exaggeration to call this introduction The House as Hero, but the phrase stuck fast in my mind: it sums up so succinctly what I feel about fictional places that act as guardians and springboards, inspirations and anchorages. Home is a recurring theme: childhood homes, home under threat, homes lost and home regained.

Like author Christina Hardyment, I am fascinated by houses in books - especially when they act as an important character, even 'hero' in the sto
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this. Looking at what makes a good literary house a character itself was really enjoyable. I knew (having read or seen an adaptation of some sort) all but four of the twenty books discussed. Three are American and seventeen British, but as someone who loves British books, I liked this. I’m interested in those four now, and want to revisit the others as well. I liked that previous houses were brought back where necessary with later ones - having the book be chronological made so ...more
I read the Intro and the JA chapter featuring Mansfield Park. I hope to read other chapters later.
Maura Heaphy Dutton
Dec 04, 2019 rated it liked it
This was slightly disappointing. It's a beautiful book: my copy is destined to be a Christmas present (well, yes, I read it first. Quality control ...), and I'm very satisfied that it will be a welcome gift. But the content (with one or two exceptions) felt slight, and going over familiar old ground.

In fairness, Hardyment does exactly what she promises to do -- so, before buying, it might be worth having a quick, sneaky read of her Introduction. (Yes, I do that, too ... ) Each chapter looks at
Jan 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book! The author feels like a kindred spirit and each essay on a different house is expertly constructed. It’s so clear that the author loves the books she is writing about and has read each book numerous times. She treats the authors with great dignity in the biographical details that pop up in each essay. (She even met Forster as a Cambridge student in the 60s!) Some of my favorite writers are covered here, like Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, E.M Forster, Evelyn Waugh, J.R.R. Tolki ...more
Dec 21, 2019 rated it liked it
Enjoyable read and has given me a number of places I will be going to see along with reminders of beautiful books read; along with books to add to the to read list.
Ronald Koltnow
Aug 17, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a solid 3 1/2 stars. The settings of novels tell us a great deal. We see where and how the action will unfold, and we see inside the mind of the author. Christina Hardyment tackles both sides of that issue. She examines houses in fiction from Walpole’s CASTLE OF OTRANTO to Hogwarts, with stops along the way at Mansfield Park, Bleak House, Howard’s End, and several others. She gives us a plot synopsis, especially how the setting informs the action, descriptions of the place, and insight i ...more
I just loved this book!!! I wish i were the kind of scholar who could research and write this sort of thing :) It's so much fun!!! The connections between authors and literature that i had not known and the reasons certain metaphors were used--it's all so delicious!! really!!! I could not be happier. I wish i had not read it so fast but i couldn't help myself.
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
I stumbled upon this book in my library catalog (can't remember what I was actually searching for), and I was incredibly excited to read it. Hardyment examines twenty famous fictional dwellings, from Mansfield Park to 221B Baker Street, Manderly to Brideshead, Bag End to Hogwarts. Some of the chapters were the sort of delightful that make you want to immediately pick up the book being discussed so you can lose yourself in that place again. But some of the chapters inspired only indifference (tho ...more
May 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable read for this book-lover and house-lover. The author takes 20 books and explores the importance of a dwelling place in each book and also the inspirations for the fictional house. Some of my favorites were Wuthering Heights, Mansfield Park, Orlando, The Great Gatsby, The Hobbit and the Harry Potter books. (Of course I skipped the chapters about books I hadn't read like Waverly by Sir Walter Scott. Obviously it's only fun if you know the books.) It took me so long to finish becau ...more
Andrea Engle
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-read-2020
Absolutely magical ... a visit to twenty famous dwellings which exist as characters in their own right in a host of fictional works ... a stroll through literature in English, beginning with Walpole’s Castle of Otranto in 1764 and finishing up with Hogwarts from J.K.Rowling’s popular Harry Potter series, which dominated the late nineties ... splendid read ...
Steven Minniear
Dec 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of the most enjoyable books I’ve read all year. If you love reading, especially the classic novels, then you’ll enjoy visiting their settings. If you haven’t read these novels, you’ll get a short introduction to them that might inspire you spend some days with them.
Dec 17, 2020 marked it as abandoned
How is it that a hefty hardcover book that was clearly not cheap to print is so full of errors and typos? So weird. The content itself just wasn’t there to allow me to overlook the editorial sloppiness.
Jul 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I love houses. I haven't read every one of books whose houses are discussed here, but I am familiar with all of the titles. I was pleased to find Gormenghast included here. ...more
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Christina Hardyment read history at Newnham College, Cambridge, and has twice held the Alistair Horne Historians' Writing Fellowship at St. Antony's College, Oxford. She is a writer and broadcaster with wide interests, and lives in Oxford, England. ...more

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