Top critical review
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Beautiful, evocative rubbish
on 24 September 2009
I share the same views as the other reviewers, although I am less inclined to be as generous as them with my stars. I feel that a book should teach you something, and this book does not. If you are looking for a practical guide to living a greener life then look elsewhere. However, if what you are looking for is a beautiful coffee table book with lots of colour pictures of country traditions then this might just be the book for you. It's an armchair countryphile's dream in that respect.
The author's eccentric style and privileged upbringing come across very strongly in the book, and from that point of view it is highly evocative of a particular kind of country life. With comments like "I was a poor little rich girl, I never learned how to mend as we had servants to do that" on the double-page spread dedicated to darning, and tips for polishing the silver passed on only in reference to Mr Wild the butler.
Apart from the recipes, which is clearly Clarissa's forte, the rest of the book gives the air of crafts and skills observed and imperfectly remembered, rather than displaying any true mastery. It's like sitting at her knee and hearing her talk of old times. Evocative, erroneous and occasionally hilarious rubbish.