Delightful and eccentric.,
This review is from: The Wry Romance of the Literary Rectory (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Deborah Alun-Jones' book is peculiar and delightful. The rectory is a such an evocative staple of English and Welsh village life and in this book Alun-Jones explores some of the many literary and creative people who have lived in rectories either as rectors themselves or in their childhood or later life.
Perhaps the most famous writers who have sprung from rectories are Jane Austen and the Brontes but these are both only briefly mentioned in the introduction as their lives have been so we'll documented elsewhere. The book itself is made up of chapters encompassing the rather wonderful Sydney Smith, Alfred Tennyson, Dorothy L. Sayers, Rupert Brooke, John Betjeman, R.S Thomas, George Herbert and Vikram Seth, the Benson family and the De Waals.
With such a large number of literary people growing up and living in vicarages it must have been difficult to choose who to write about. The choice is a good one although I would have liked to have read about more daughters of the clergy since there is only one woman with her own chapter but other than there is a good spread from the golden age of rectory building in the 1700s to the modern day.
Each chapter is like a mini biography centred upon that subject's life at a village rectory. I enjoyed the earlier chapters the most when the rectory was at the centre of life in the village. Some of the chapters, especially Sydney Smith, Tennyson and Sayers chapters have encouraged me to seek out some of their work.
Overall this is a lovely book. I would have liked a bit about why rectories have produced so many and so much literary talent and I would have liked a few more, less well known, people to be included but it's a charming book.