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Great picture book of life in British homes
, 10 Mar. 2010
This review is from: UK At Home: A Celebration of Where We Live and Love (Hardcover)
This book, by the same team that compiled America at Home, takes a look at homes all over England, Scotland and Wales. The pictures are mostly positive, but there are hints here and there that everything is not quite as we would like it to be, so let's discuss the sad pictures first. By their rarity in this book, they stand out.
A picture taken from Happisburgh beach in Norfolk illustrates coastal erosion., which may have been taking place in this part of Norfolk for 5,000 years or more. Atop the cliff stands a woman, contemplating the sea view. Behind her is her home, which has probably toppled into the sea by now. Another picture shows a nine-year old girl in a bedroom watching TV, but the caption explains that she has two bedrooms, one at her mother's house and one at her father's house. This sort of thing was unheard of in my childhood. Insofar as it happened, people kept very quiet about it. How times have changed. Elsewhere, you can see a close-up double-page spread of a high-rise tower block with many people out on their balconies. Looked at this way, these apartments look grim, but I just hope that they are more inviting on the inside. Even more bleak is another double-page spread showing a street of terraced houses, some boarded up while others are still occupied. The residents were being re-housed as the houses were due for demolition. Another picture shows two women apparently chatting away in a corridor, but their home is a prison.
The front cover picture is more typical of the book`s mood. Two boys sit in a wheelchair, pushed by their mother, with all three of them clearly looking very happy. The mother is also featured in the main book, as she and her husband are pictured at their door. But happiness takes many forms and there's a great mixture of rural and urban life, indoors and outdoors, children and adults, ancient and modern, normal and eccentric, not forgetting cats, dogs, horses and caravans. Perhaps the most extraordinary picture is of three nuns playing badminton - sort of. With three players and no net, I wonder what rules they have devised. The caption says that close friendships and gossip are discouraged, while Scrabble is also popular among nuns. So on their breaks from their normal duties, even nuns can relax.
This is a great picture book that won't change your life, though you may recognize aspects of your own life in some of the pictures, especially if you`re British or have lived there for part of your life.
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