Top critical review
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When skill was the 'buzz' word...
on 31 March 2006
This book gives an interesting insight into the sort of world my ancestors inhabited. Like the author's family they too were carpenters in a small village (over a period of 200 years) so I found this description of the work they may have done in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries extremely useful for family history research.
Mr Rose is, for me, at his best when he is writing, almost poetically, about the nature of craftsmanship and the impression it made on him. Other parts of the book seemed a little tedious (sometimes overly technical and perhaps a trifle self-indulgent) in comparison. However despite some reservations about 'presentation', which affect the rating given, I certainly finished the book with a much greater understanding of the wide range of work done by carpenters, especially in our villages.
I also gained a great deal from simply reading about our artisan past and (hopefully) soaking up some of the values held by the craftsmen who, as Mr Rose points out, made such a significant (and often unacknowledged) contribution to everyday life for their contemporaries and even to posterity.
Don't expect a carpenter's diary or a handbook of woodwork but if you care about the past, either as social history or as a would-be craftsperson, or even if you are just interested in human nature and experience, then "The Village Carpenter" is a very worthwhile read, excellent (and unique) in places and a lasting monument to a time when skill and the work of one's hands counted for something. Oh - and never ask a carpenter if you can borrow his saw...