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A Home for All Seasons

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Grove Press An imprint of Grove Atlantic, an American independent publisher, who publish in the UK through Atlantic Books. J. Marsh, Judith O'Reilly, Kelly Clayton, Kim Nash, Leah Mercer, Liz Fenwick, Louise Jensen, Louise Mumford, Malcolm Hollingdrake, Marcia Woolf, Mark Stay, Marcie Steele, Natasha Bache, Nick Jackson, Nick Quantrill, Nicky Black, Patricia Gibney, Rachel Sargeant, Rob Parker, Rob Scragg, S. Those involved Protestants escaping mainland Europe and the consequent difficulties they had in integrating with the existing population. Features about Gavin’s home and life in Pembridge have also appeared on Inigo, Sphere and in Herefordshire Living.

I almost felt that I had somehow been tricked into reading it by a “false description” given by the publisher and even those who had reviewed and blurbed it. I assumed (like other reviewers) that this would concentrate on the house and surrounding areas of Herefordshire where author Gavin Plumley lives. A wonderful meeting of memoir and landscape, both rigorous and freewheeling, expansive and intimate, rendered in dreamy prose. With passion and precision, Gavin Plumley pushes the boundaries of memoir and scholarship and shows that the chronicle of a house can contain the grand history of a whole world as well as the sweet, urgent story of a life: all that intimacy within the vastness of historical time.I don’t know if the filling stations are still disturbing the village, but if they are, there are plenty of compensations: a 14th-century church with, so the story goes, the marks of Cromwellian musket balls still showing in its west door; a spectacular pagoda-like bell house dating back to the 1200s; an early 16th-century market hall; 17th-century almshouses; and streets stacked to the gills with picturesquely wonky black-and-white houses.

A hybrid work of domestic history and European art, of memoir and landscape, A Home for All Seasons is both grand in its sweep and intimate in its account of life on the edge of England. As Gavin traced Stepps House through various hands and eras, he uncovers a past steeped in history and art, memory and nature that resonates powerfully with our present. What starts out as a straightforward house history morphs into something else, a wide-ranging meditation on place and past, taking in climate change, rural depopulation, the Reformation and folklore . That simple question set them off on a discovery process, delving into the house's mixed and varied history, and expanding out from that (via a lot of medieval art, especially Breughel; the author is an art historian) into the rhythms and processes of the countryside generally, and how to live within them. The author is entitled to his opinion, but I bought the book for the house not an essay on modern climate change, criticism of government officials’ handling of the pandemic, or the merits of socialism.He also delved extensively into the art of the Tudor period and came across the 16th century immigration issues. Slightly Foxed introduces its readers to books that are no longer new and fashionable but have lasting appeal.

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