Review – House of Fiction

Posted November 11, 2020 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of House of Fiction by Phyllis RichardsonHouse of Fiction, Phyllis Richardson

I was hoping for something that was totally disconnected from current events, something like stepping back into the bubble that was my BA/MA at Cardiff University… and I got it. This is a history of houses in British literature, what houses might have inspired the authors and what the houses meant to them — and what, perhaps, they were trying to say with their fiction. It gets a bit infodumpy, which may or may not bother you: the books it mentions are comprehensively spoilered, which may or may not spoil the stories for you. (For me, no; it probably enhances them most of the time.)

It is, consequently, not a book about the history of houses, per se. Some of that creeps in, of course. Some of the books and stories are more focused on houses than others, and some books felt included here as an afterthought — but it’s nice to have some signposting to other relevant reading, should I care.

I don’t, really; I wanted this for my wide-but-shallow knowledge acquired by pleasure reading, and so it was an end in itself, something that demanded very little of me. As far as I can tell, the theories and arguments about the influence of certain houses on certain writers (and the intent of the writers in shaping their stories) were well-argued and plausible. Richardson writes clearly and made me interested in books and authors I’ve not read yet, and makes some interesting points.

Rating: 4/5

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