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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 16 July 2010
This is the history of a family which had some famous connections (Florence Nightingale, Barbara Bodichon), but is not especially well-known. If this sounds dull, the book is anything but! Moore has a wonderful and quirky eye for detail, which brings alive all of the varied characters in her family memoir. My own favourites are the magnificently bearded and moustached General Ludlow, who defied modern stereotyping to nurse his poor mad wife with an attentive tenderness rare even among New Men; and Gillachrist, the lively boy, resisting his family's attempts to fit him into an academic mould, who was killed at Ypres. This book is deeply touching as well as extremely funny. Moore writes elegantly and wittily.She has made wonderful use of the letters and clutter left by a family whose eccentricities included an inability to throw anything away! Extremely readable.
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on 26 July 2010
I only picked this book up because of the tenous connection with the Victorian gardener Ellen Willmott, but my goodness I am glad that I did; I was interested when I read the prologue, and absolutely hooked by the end of chapter one. It must have taken an incredible amount of research and a mind used to crossword puzzles to put all the facts together to form a comprehensible whole, but to do so in a way that retains interest throughout requires a very special talent - one that Charlotte Moore seems to have in abundance. The book explores not only the world of people some of whom were rich, most of whom were very talented and many flawed, but also the way of life in general over the past couple of centuries. Religion, health, wealth, war, social differences, all these and more are dealt with without fear or favour. Occasionally I forgot who this person or that was related to but a quick reference to the clear family tree at the front always provided a quick solution. I didn't envy them their money, I was happy for them, but I do envy the author's ability to bring her characters to life in such a way. I recommend this book to the casual reader as well as the student of history.
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on 19 August 2010
This is a wonderful account of a family through various generations and a terrific piece of social history. Charlotte Moore has succeeded in absorbing and collating a huge amount of research and has produced a fascinating, beautifully written book which wears its considerable scholarship lightly. Please read it.
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on 7 July 2010
This is a remarkable book about a host of fascinating and complex characters as revealed through their letters and their artefacts still to be found at Hancox: family home and unique historical repository. With her clear style, wry humour and perceptive intelligence Moore has created something really special. The book not only evokes an increasingly distant cultural age but also draws an intimate and vivid picture of shifting familial relations and affections. I couldn't put the book down.
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on 24 January 2011
A fabulous read, couldn't put it down!! Oh to have lived in a fascinating time warp like that. Great social and local history. How great to have all that material in the house to peruse at your leisure, what a dream of an ancient house.
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on 8 March 2012
I bought this as I love reading about the history of houses and old families and this didn't disappoint. Its a very readable history of Charlotte Moore's ancestors with plenty of personal detail gathered from the many family diaries and letters collected in the house over the years. There are lots of fascinating events in its history ranging from Arctic exploration to insanity and adultery. My only criticism is that Charlotte Moore winds the story up at the point that her Uncle is born as that is "within living memory". I would have liked to have read more about the events within living memory and how she and her children came to be living in the house as from the family tree included, she doesn't appear to be the natural successor. I suppose it was born of a sense of discretion and not wanting to broadcast anything that may upset or offend any living family members but I feel she could have given a bit of detail of the recent history to round the story off. Otherwise a thoroughly enjoyable book.
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on 31 July 2010
Loved this book! The narrative combines all the building excitement of a novel with much subtly-observed history of the Victorian and Edwardian (and later) periods. Charlotte Moore is a wonderful writer who tells a story with a lightness of touch, clear sparkling intelligence that imparts knowledge and insight without ever making one feel ignorant, and such good humour. She manages to be at the same time both personal and detached in telling a tale that is sometimes unpalatable, sometimes heartbreaking, always fascinating. Among the cast are impossible Aunt Nannie, magisterial 'NM' (Charlotte's great-grandfather Norman) and her father's cousin Gillachrist, with whom it is difficult not to fall a little bit in love and who... but that would be telling.

I smiled and laughed and cried into the pages of this book as the touching human story unfolded. I also very much enjoyed the author's 21st-century observations, where with the benefit of our knowledge of modern medicine and autism, for example, she suggests solutions to conundrums about her 'characters' (ie her relatives) behaviour in times past. Best of all is the strong sense of place - the folds of the magical East Sussex countryside where Hancox sits, as well as the house's setting in the continuity of the seasons and social life of its location. Hancox has stood for hundreds of years and may it survive for hundreds more, containing within its walls the lives of members of the vibrant Moore family.
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on 28 October 2010
I really enjoyed this book. It gave a very vivid account of a lost age that will help you understand what life pre WW1 in rural Sussex was really like. The loves and lives of the extended family are flollowed through in an interesting and informative way. I thoroughly recommend this book to all those who are interested in how our ancestors lived.
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on 20 February 2012
How lucky the author is to have such a wealth of diaries and letters to draw on and what a lot of detail there is in this book.

Mostly we both enjoyed this book and I think it says a lot about the author's considerable writing skill that only occasionally did either of us find the minutiae of family history heavy going.
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on 18 November 2010
I brought this having read The Nightingales, the story of Florence's extended family and this is a branch of that extended family. A highly readable book, which shows that it is not 21st century families that have problems with relationships and ideas.
The house is the background to this family history, and sits there as a bystander to an eclectic family.
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