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The Wry Romance of the Literary Rectory Hardcover – 25 Mar 2013


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd; 1 edition (25 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0500516774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0500516775
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 0.3 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 42,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Engaging account of writers and poets who have lived in village rectories. --The Bookseller

Well researched … Alun-Jones writes in a clear, elegant style …for any readers who delight in reading about the lives of those far from the noise of modernity, with an attention to nature and matters of the spirit, this book is ideal. --Lincolnshire Life

A charming and moving book. --Charles Moore, The Daily Telegraph

Beautifully written and entertaining.--The Tablet

Deborah Alun-Jones has homed in on the literary association of eight houses: a ballast of research … [the book] is generously and imaginatively illustrated …the pleasure of the book is in the wealth of detail … there will be something unfamiliar or intriguing here.--Penelope Lively, The Spectator

A cultural history, and it is rich in the atmosphere of a selection of rectories and vicarages …this is an elegantly written book, which takes the reader on a spiritual and literary journey around England.--Country Life

Fascinating reading ... I wish this book were fatter. --The Lady

Beautifully produced…an absorbing read…packed with intriguing information. --We Love This Book

Engaging, eclectic … generously and intelligently illustrated … Alun-Jones's study aims not for comprehensiveness, but to tell good stories a bit off the beaten track … these are readable, sympathetic and humane studies --The Times Literary Supplement

Easy reading … an enlightening portrayal of what it was like to live in these wonderful houses through the ages … the book is very much a success --Historic House

Delightful … learned but far from sermon-like --The Independent

Well-illustrated … a compelling and often charming series of case studies …The author's archival work has borne fruit in all kinds of delicious local detail, but, thank goodness, she wears her learning lightly. A good read, and not only for rectors and writers --Church Times

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lulu VINE VOICE on 28 July 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Deborah Alun-Jones has chosen some particularly attractive (to me) examples of literary rectory-dwellers: Sydney Smith, Alfred Tennyson, Dorothy L Sayers, Rupert Brooke, John Betjeman, R S Thomas, George Herbert, Vikram Seth and Edmund de Waal. Their stories are linked by their residence, by deliberate choice or accident of birth, in this very particular type of house with its unique position in rural English (and Welsh) society. The lives led by the occupants have never been immune from ordiinary human troubles and even tragedies, and the contrast between the image and the reality for so many of her subjects makes for absorbing reading.

The illustrations are fascinating in themselves, a mixture of photographs, drawings and paintings, with some very telling excerpts from Tennyson's notebook. A pleasure to read, and the extensive bibliography offers the prospect of even more to look forward to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. P. Wright TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 July 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a delightful book that I fear will be overlooked because it doesn't fit into any clearly defined category. Its premise is simple. It looks at that archetype of English rural society, the English rectory, serene and mellow, typifying all that we hold dear about our past and explores the lives of some of the many literary figures that have lived in them.

We meet Sidney Smith, Alfred Tennyson, Dorothy Sayers, Rupert Brooke, John Betjeman, RS Thomas, George Herbert, Vikram Seth, the Benson and de Waal families in their various rectories and have a glimpse of their lives. Amongsth the most memorable is Helen Sayers, Dorothy Sayers' free-thinking and progressive mother who "not only smoked, but disapproved of teetotallers".

Of course, frequently life in the rectory was not serene. For example we discover the dreadful early life of Tennyson, whose father, despite being the elder son of the Old Man of the Wolds, was disinherited in favour of his younger brother, because he was deemed unfit. Instead he was sent into the church. His living was only a few miles from the estate that he had been brought up to believe was his and rather that enjoying the freedom of a good income, he was confined to a rectory with his wife and twelve children. He became prone to depression and alcoholism and was frequently violent towards his children, at one point threatening to shoot them. It is not the background one would have expected of that pillar of the Victorian establishment, Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

John Betjeman who had been stationed in Dublin, in a talk on the BBC in 1943, called 'Oh to be In England . . .' summed up his nostalgic yearning for the English pastoral idyll and wanted to recapture it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Deep Reader VINE VOICE on 26 July 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Deborah Alun-Jones has written an interesting account of an appealing but little considered subject. Once she puts it out in the open though, it seems that everyone knew it was there all the time! Inside are the Brontes and Dorothy L Sayers and, my curmudgeonly favourite, R S Thomas. Arguments will ensue over who has been missed but it will all be grist to the mill. There is not much to complain about in this little gem and a new field is opened. Thames and Hudson has done its usual totally splendid job on production. One to be treasured. The Ancient Pinewoods of Scotland Columba's Iona: A New HistoryOrkney Spirit (Non-Fiction)
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By Elaine Simpson-long TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 1 Oct. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is not a book to be rushed, but to be savoured and I have been reading a chapter a night for the last few weeks. We all know the pleasure of a story set in a rectory - Jane Austen is perhaps the first we think of followed swiftly by the Brontes whose well documented life in Haworth has brought this village world wide fame. Having visited the parsonage on a dark, rainy and miserable day it seems a miracle to me that the Brontes survived their enclosed world 'One day resembles another' said Charlotte.

Jane Austen's rectory/parsonage seems a lighter place, more in sunlight than shadow and shot through with humour (a commodity Charlotte Bronte was singularly lacking though hardly surprising in the light of her life marred by tragedy) and most of us who love Austen will immediately think of Mr Collins who wanted to marry one of the Bennett girls to please his patroness, Lady Cathering de Burgh whose living was in her gift.

In the introduction to this very interesting and well written book, we learn of the importance socially of the rectory in village life. In a well to do parish the vicar, if he was unmarried, was an extremely eligible parti for the local ladies (Mr Elton in Emma being such an example); the poorer the parish the less chance the rector/vicar had of being regarded as an acceptable husand.

Many parsonages nowadays are more modern and up to date buildings and the charm of the old parsonage has vanished, they are now more likely to be bought by private owners and any country village will have The Old Parsonage as a desirable property.
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