7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A love-hate relationship with both Pugin and the book.,
This review is from: God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain (Paperback)
God's Architect: Pugin and the Building of Romantic Britain
This is clearly a well researched and competently written book. The author is obviously interested in her subject and is trying to present the whole of Pugin and his career without putting too much emphasis on his participation in the design of the Houses of Parliament.
At times, the book is heavy going, as one other reviewer pointed out, there is a lot written about his religious beliefs. That said, it may just be that from a twenty first century perspective, it is difficult to appreciate how important religion was to much of the population in the early Victorian age.
This is definitely not a book that you can dip in and out of and I found that I got more from it when I read larger chunks at a time, allowing me to get to know the bit part players. When I read small sections I found it difficult to keep up with the different protagonists and whether they were Catholic, Protestant or undecided (although I found I sometimes didn't care any more).
For such a long biography, there is little about his family. Once his parents and aunt have died, others get little page space, although friends and acquaintances feature a little more. My main criticism however, is the lack of photos. This is a biography about a man whose ideals were supposed to be reflected in his architecture and interior designs, yet for such a prolific workaholic there are too few pictures of either the finished article or the many designs not realised.
On a similar point I found a lot of the architectural terms confusing. Not knowing anything about architecture prior to reading this book, I would have liked a little more explanation of perpendicular and decorative styles, naves and chancels etc, not to mention rood screens which either the author or Pugin (or both) seemed a little obsessed with.
On the plus side, having read this book I feel I know much more about the man and the early Victorian period. I have been motivated to find out more about architecture and have started looking at churches in a different light. I was undecided whether to give it three or four stars, but overall found it an enjoyable read about a subject not often tackled. It would definitely have rated five stars if there were more pictures and a little more architectural explanation.