Here at Classically Educated, we’re unabashed anglophiles. But we’re also just a tiny bit elitist, so the parts of England we like aren’t the drear suburbs or the pubs frequented by football hooligans. Instead, we’re drawn to the cultural stuff and to places that Wodehouse would have written about.
If we could, we’d move straight to Castle Blandings, but since that is a fictional place, we have to search elsewhere for the kind of house to buy if we ever win the lottery (or publish a bestselling book that nets trillions).
The English Country House, by James Peill is the kind of book in which to lose yourself on a lazy afternoon. It’s a profile of ten stately manors owned by the same family for a looong time, sometimes centuries.
And it’s a wonderful thing. There’s just something about English country houses as opposed to French Chateaux or Italian Palazzos that makes me want to live in one (even if I could do without the forty-odd bedrooms that some of these have). I suspect the reason they’re so pleasant is that even the larger rooms are somehow inviting (it’s hard to say cozy when one of the rooms in this book is literally the one whose dimensions were used to set the size of official Badminton courts). They are places you want to spend some time sitting and reading (or knitting, or talking) in.
Another thing that makes you want to transport yourself there is the fact that the English revere the lawn. So not only do you want to sit and read inside, you also want to spend considerable amounts of time sitting on a well-placed table int he lawy drinking tea with friends.
In an ideal world where I had enough money to do whatever the hell I wanted, I would have a tough time choosing between buying an English country house and its equivalent in Tuscany. In the end, I suspect I’d probably end up choosing the Green and Pleasant land over the land of my ancestors.
In the meantime, I can always revisit this book and be inspired to remember what could happen if one of my books makes it mega-huge. Intellectually, I know it isn’t likely, but you’d be surprised to learn just how much motivation can come from unlikely dreams.
Gustavo Bondoni is a novelist and short story writer whose latest book is entitled The Swords of Rasna. It’s a dark historical fantasy in which Etruscan black magic attempts to keep Rome at bay. You can check the book out here… and if you get about ten million of your friends to buy a copy, Gustavo will have enough money to make a down payment on the house he has in mind!