Houses which give books a sense of place

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley”

I was in Waterstones after Christmas browsing as you do when you have gift cards burning to be spent in your wallet. In the new book section, I spied a book title which intrigued me ’Novel Houses’ by Christina Hardyment. I took it down from the shelf to investigate a little more. 

Nobel Laureate VS Naipaul’s acclaimed masterpiece

The author uses the technique of mini essays or house portraits written on a selection of classic and more recent books to explain the importance of place. Each one takes an esoteric ‘deep dive’ into the plot line to show how bricks and mortar play as an important part in the narrative as the characters do.

An alternative view of 221b Baker Street

I mused on this for a while and asked myself some questions. Where would ‘Rebecca’ be without the brooding Manderley, ’Gone with the Wind’ without the southern charm of soon to be destroyed Tara, how would Harry Potter and crew exist without the towering and glowering Hogwarts and Brideshead as the backdrop to Charles Ryder’s and Sebastian Flyte’s louche lifestyle depicted in Waugh’s novel?

Val McDermid rewrites Austen

There are many such houses in novels. I can list some I can think of in no particular order of time or preference; Naipaul’s ‘The House of Mr Biswas’, Sherlock’s residence at 221B Baker Street, Dicken’s ‘Bleak House’, Harriet Beecher Stowe’s ‘Uncle Tom Cabin’, Emily Bronte’s’ Wuthering Heights’, Austen’s ‘Northanger Abbey’, Smith‘s Hotel a ‘home’ for a retired colonel and his wife in Paul Scott’s ‘Staying on’ and my present favourite Slough House, the rickety out of town London refuge for Jackson Lamb’s Slow Horses in Mick Herron’s exceptional spy thriller series.

A Dickens classic

Ah! have I missed some? Perhaps you can fill in the gaps and we will unearth the Library’s treasures for you to read.

Paul Taylor- ‘The Random Blogger’