The Long Weekend
by Adrian Tinniswood
Hardcover: 334 pages
Publisher: Basic Books
Released: May 3, 2016
Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.
Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
As WWI drew to a close, change reverberated through the halls of England’s country homes. Historian Adrian Tinniswood introduces us to the tumultuous, scandalous and glamourous history of English country houses during the years between World Wars.
The upper crust struggled to fend off rising taxes and underbred outsiders, property speculators and poultry farmers. As estate taxes and other challenges forced many of these venerable houses onto the market, new sectors of British and American society were seduced by the dream of owning a home in the English countryside. Drawing on thousands of memoirs, letters, and diaries, we learn of legendary families such as the Astors, the Churchills and the Devonshires.
The Long Weekend is a look at English country houses during the 1918-1939 period. The focus seemed to be the fate of the country house: who was selling, buying, renovating, redecorating, or building them. The author gave specific details about changes made to certain houses (including royal country houses) and the careers of certain architects or interior decorators. He included some general information about why it was difficult to sell old country houses, why people were selling them, various building or decorating trends, alternative uses found for country houses, and such.
A few chapters covered what a country house party was generally like, the various jobs of the servants, the role that some country houses played in politics, notable fancy dress balls, and various sports done at country houses (with some details about bird hunting). He also talked about Americans who bought English country houses.
I think I would have enjoyed the details about the decorations and changes if there had been more pictures of what the houses looked like before and afterward. As it was, I felt like I had details without the context to make it interesting. I'd also expected this to be more about the activities done at these houses, especially on the weekends. Instead, the book felt like a patchwork of information about country houses. The book was interesting, but I think it'd appeal most to those interested in architecture, interior decoration, and the people who owned these houses.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.