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A House in the Country
A House in the Country | RUTH. ADAM
30 posts | 11 read | 23 to read
"[I]f only we could make the manor subscribe a little bit towards her own upkeep," we fretted. But she was an aristocratic lady on our hands. All ideas for making her work for a living were wrecked on the fact that she was born to be served and not to serve. Six friends have spent the dark, deprived years of World War II fantasising-in air raid shelters and food queues-about an idyllic life in a massive country house. With the coming of peace, they sieze on a seductive newspaper ad and take possession of a neglected 33-room manor in Kent, with acres of lavish gardens and an elderly gardener yearning to revive the estate's glory days. But the realities of managing this behemoth soon dawn, including a knife-wielding maid, unruly pigs, and a paying guest who tells harrowing stories of her time in the French Resistance, not to mention the friends' conscientious efforts to offer staff a fair 40-hour work week and paid overtime. And then there's the ghost of an overworked scullery maid . . . Based on the actual experiences of Ruth Adam, her husband, and their friends, A House in the Country is a witty and touching novel about the perils of dreams come true. But it's also a constantly entertaining tale packed with fascinating details of post-war life-and about the realities of life in the kind of house most of us only experience via Downton Abbey.
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blurb
jlhammar
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Before I post my top reads of the year, I just wanted to give a special shout-out to #CampLitsy, #NaturaLitsy and #FurrowedMiddlebrowClub. My Litsy group reads were some of my richest and most pleasurable in 2022.

I am so excited to be adding #NunLitQuarterly, #PersephoneClub and #GoldenAgeCrimeClub to the mix in 2023. Should make for a great reading year!

LeahBergen Yes! I love our little reading clubs. ❤️ 11mo
BarbaraBB I am happy you joined #CampLitsy and the upcoming #ToB! 11mo
batsy Yes! Such a fantastic part of Litsy 💕 11mo
AllDebooks This is lovely. 💚 I agree some of my best reading experiences this year have been alongside Litsy clubs. I'm so glad I started #NaturaLitsy and thrilled you're enjoying it x 11mo
59 likes4 comments
blurb
rubyslippersreads
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I had mixed feelings about this book. I could have lived without the rats and maggots! I liked the way the new labor laws turned the manor from “upstairs/downstairs“ into something that was somewhat more manageable and fair to all concerned.

#FurrowedMiddlebrowClub

@quietjenn, @Jess_Read_This @Kimzey @erzascarletbookgasm @catebutler @CarolynM @LeahBergen @batsy @Tamra @Cathythoughts @jlhammar @Ruthiella @Sparklemn @MrsK
@elkeOriginal @MrsK

jlhammar 🤣Yeah, she really gave us the good with the bad. I don‘t think I‘ll be forgetting either of those disturbing scenes anytime soon! 1y
Ruthiella Maggots and rats and pigs, oh my! She definitely showed some of the less pleasant aspects of country life! 😱 1y
LeahBergen I like your pig and mushroom accents for this review! 😆👏👏 1y
See All 13 Comments
quietjenn 💜🐷 1y
rubyslippersreads @LeahBergen In honor of your “catchup” recipe. 😆 1y
rubyslippersreads @Ruthiella I know—it could put me off bacon for life. 🤢 1y
Tamra I did too. Yes, who can forget the pigs & rats! 😵 1y
rubyslippersreads @Tamra I decided to refrain from adding a rat to my photo. 😂 1y
batsy I know it's super gross, but I appreciated the rats and maggots for very systemically ruining all my romantic notions of country life, farming, etc. 🤣 1y
batsy Love the lil 🐖 😆 1y
Cathythoughts Oh no !! I havnt read that far into it yet, but I‘m not looking forward to meeting those characters…. Old houses can be scary in many ways 😬 1y
rubyslippersreads Sorry for the spoilers. Although in the case of the vermin, I was glad someone had warned me. 😳 1y
rubyslippersreads @batsy You‘re right. I can cross “move to lavish country manor” off my bucket list. 😂 1y
54 likes13 comments
review
jlhammar
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Pickpick

I thoroughly enjoyed my first Furrowed Middlebrow read. Charming, funny, moving, and filled with wonderful details of life in England following WWII. I was quite taken with the writing; there are some positively striking passages in here. So glad #DeanStreetPress reissued this autobiographical novel for new readers to discover.

#FurrowedMiddlebrowClub

Tamra Middlebrow seems such a delightful collection of republications! 😊 1y
batsy Lovely review and I agree about the writing 💜 1y
LeahBergen Great review! 😊 1y
See All 9 Comments
Ruthiella Excellent review! 👍 1y
Jess_Read_This Great review! I‘ve really enjoyed reading your book quote posts too! 1y
MrsK Great review! Her writing evolved some great visuals…hence our aversion to rats and maggots 😝. 1y
Cathythoughts Lovely review 👍🏻❤️ 1y
jlhammar @Tamra Agreed! I can‘t wait to try others. 1y
jlhammar @batsy @LeahBergen @Ruthiella @Cathythoughts @MrsK @Jess_Read_This Thanks! It has been a lot of fun sharing this reading experience with all of you. Looking forward to Thalia in November! 1y
53 likes1 stack add9 comments
quote
jlhammar
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“We shall never like a white Christmas so much as we loved the green Christmases of Kent. There were Christmas roses in the garden, and violets at the foot of the trees beside the river. In the orchard, half a dozen red apples hung, smooth and shining and sound to the core, as we went up to the village church on Christmas morning.”

I found the writing in this section particularly lovely. Much needed after the 🥓 maggots 🤢 #FurrowedMiddlebrowClub

Ruthiella Indeed! She intersperses the good with the bad! 1y
Jess_Read_This I love how you are posting some of the lovely quotes from the book! 1y
Kimzey Beautiful photo and quotation! 1y
See All 6 Comments
LeahBergen This section was lovely. I want a green Kent Christmas! 1y
batsy Yes, there were some lovely descriptive passages. I was kinda blown away (so to speak) by the 🥓🐛 section 😵 1y
Cathythoughts Beautiful description 💚 1y
54 likes6 comments
quote
jlhammar
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“By the end of two days, we had got several sacks full of mushrooms, which Lefty said he could sell to a restaurant in London. We sorted them out into good and indifferent, and made the indifferent ones into Mushroom Ketchup, which tasted like brine and which we never could bring ourselves to use but left in the larder for several years and then threw away.”

I never knew about the “umami bomb” that is mushroom ketchup!
#FurrowedMiddlebrowClub

LeahBergen I have a few Victorian era cookbooks and this recipe is mentioned in them. 1y
Ruthiella I was also just reading in David Copperfield about walnut ketchup. I always thought “tomato ketchup” was redundant, but clearly not! 😅 1y
See All 10 Comments
quietjenn So curious about ketchup variations (although maybe not mushroom?). 1y
jlhammar @Ruthiella Yes, me too! Walnut? I love that I‘m learning about this wide world of ketchup. @LeahBergen Those cookbooks must be such a fascinating glimpse at the era! How fun. 1y
erzascarletbookgasm What a surprising variation of ketchup! I‘m curious too, though not excited to try. 1y
batsy This made me curious, too. Ketchup brings to mind a certain texture and obviously taste; brine something else altogether! Pretty fascinating but I suspect I would have left those jars alone, too 😆 1y
MrsK I found an interesting article in the Smithsonian about the history of ketchup. Supposedly Jane Austin loved mushroom ketchup! https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/ketchup-fishy-origins-180963511/ 1y
jlhammar @MrsK Very interesting article! @Tamra was just wondering about the etymology of ketchup on Leah's post and here we have it. I never would have guessed it had Chinese origins. Thank you! 1y
Tamra @jlhammar fascinating! 1y
51 likes10 comments
review
elkeOriginal
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Mehso-so

An autobiographical novel of a London friend group who bonded during WWII & find a house to let in the countryside post-war, it is an interesting look at trying to live an unrealistic dream. Full of detail of living in a certain time gone by but I found it simply a series of disjointed characterless anecdotes. Story-less. Choppy. When the rats have more character than the narrator‘s husband, I struggle to care. Was odd. Abrupt end. Unsatisfying.

elkeOriginal Was also disturbed/saddened by how both childbirth and her miscarriage are glossed over. Sign of the times, I am sure, but when such life events are barely covered but other daily bits are described in detail, I am left feeling disconnected 😒 1y
CarolynM I was disturbed by her saying she felt excited by early labour! Not how I remember the experience at all😳🥴 1y
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batsy Those rats are pretty unforgettable 😂😱 1y
Tamra Yikes, the rats!! 🐀🐀 1y
Ruthiella Yes, what she decided to emphasize and what she opted not to show was interesting. I‘d forgotten about the creepy rats at the end! 😱 1y
LeahBergen Oh, those rats! 😬 1y
jlhammar Okay, you all have me a little afraid to finish! I haven't encountered the rats yet. Eek! 1y
MrsK Maybe I look at things differently, but I saw this as a relationship between Ruth and the house. The events that impacted this relationship were what I feel she emphasized. 1y
rubyslippersreads I‘m almost done, but it‘s dragging. Not looking forward to the rats, though. 1y
elkeOriginal @rubyslippersreads @jlhammar HA - pretend I said geese instead of rats! Sorry to ‘spoil‘ the rat plotline 🤦🏼‍♀️ 1y
elkeOriginal @MrsK I can see it is primarily about her relationship with the house - that is what made the ending emotional. But even with that in mind re: other characters, I found her rendition of events disjointed. For me, it felt like she went from one event to the next so abruptly it was startling and affected my ability to enjoy it. Maybe if it was written more in diary format I would not have been wanting transitions in the text the way I did… (edited) 1y
MrsK @elkeOriginal you‘re right…there were several times when I felt the narrative jumped back and/or forth which was jarring 😕 1y
Jess_Read_This I think I‘ve mentally blocked out the rats. My recurrent book amnesia saves me again! 1y
33 likes14 comments
quote
jlhammar
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“…we had learned that you could not live in the house without service. It had been built for one group of people to be served by another, and nothing would alter that. Every square foot of the great building silently insisted that this was the only way to live.”

Was struck by this passage. Trying to live in a manor that requires the size of staff pictured, but having nowhere near that kind of help. How times had changed. #FurrowedMiddlebrowClub

Ruthiella In Loving by Henry Green, there‘s a staff of 10 to look after the manor and two adults and two children. That ratio amazes me! 1y
Kimzey Amazing! 1y
Bookishlie This sounds amazing!! Right in my wheelhouse. 1y
See All 8 Comments
LeahBergen I would happily hire on a few of them to run my own little house. 🤣 1y
Cathythoughts Imagine it !! That‘s a lot of staff ! 1y
batsy It's a striking passage, isn't it. I think she did a good job of making the manor seem like an almost terrifying parasitical creature, at times! 1y
Jess_Read_This I agree. That‘s an intensely striking passage full of loaded implications. I can‘t even maintain my small home to the standards of manor life 😂 The sheer enormity and reliance on staff is astounding to me. 1y
rubyslippersreads I think this is a larger staff than in Downton Abbey! 1y
58 likes1 stack add8 comments
blurb
BookNAround
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Now to catch up with books I wanted to join in on for this month‘s read alongs!

LeahBergen I‘m looking forward to your review! 1y
Cathythoughts I hope you enjoy ! 1y
Ruthiella I hope you like it! 1y
54 likes3 comments
review
Tamra
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Pickpick

I‘m very much appreciating all of our modern home conveniences. 😊

A collection of vignettes which provides an interesting glimpse onto the manor estate, a lifestyle no longer sustainable after WWII. #furrowedmiddlebrowclub

@LeahBergen @Cathythoughts @Ruthiella @MrsK @batsy @quietjenn @Jess_Read_This @Kimzey @erzascarletbookgasm @CarolynM @catebutler @elkeOriginal @jlhammar @Sparklemn

Ruthiella Having just vacuumed my home, I heartily agree with you! However, I think even with modern conveniences, a 33 room manor would be a challenge! 1y
Tamra No narrative drive or deep character development here, so it wasn‘t a book I was eager to read. 1y
Tamra @Ruthiella bah - completely agree! 1y
See All 16 Comments
Tamra @Ruthiella I can‘t keep my house clean so I can‘t imagine! (edited) 1y
Ruthiella @Tamra Me either! 😂 1y
CarolynM @Ruthiella The thing that gets me most about housework is it doesn't matter how well you do it, you always have to do it again. Also, nobody notices it's been done, they only notice when it hasn't. 🤬🤬🤬 1y
Ruthiella @CarolynM So true! It‘s never ending. When I was younger and cared more, I did often sit in my freshly cleaned living room, not wanting to move or do anything because whatever I did, would mess it up! 😅 1y
LeahBergen @CarolynM Isn‘t it annoying?? 1y
LeahBergen @Ruthiella 🤣 I‘d have to shut the damned dog out. It‘s like living with a hairy toddler. 1y
LeahBergen Great review. And yeah, I‘m pretty happy that I don‘t have to contend with an ancient, faulty boiler everyday! 1y
batsy So true! 😆 1y
batsy @LeahBergen That boiler and their water issues gave me so much anxiety! 1y
quietjenn I very much agree! 1y
Cathythoughts Nice review! I love your picture and your nail polish ♥️ 1y
Cathythoughts @CarolynM Exactly! Housework is only noticed when it isn‘t done 🙄, and so repetitive! Boring ! I don‘t mind tidying up my kitchen, but the rest of the housework is annoying. 👍🏻 1y
elkeOriginal ‘Collection of vignettes‘ is the perfect description! Since it does not feel like a novel… 1y
75 likes16 comments
review
Ruthiella
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Pickpick

Was this a novel? Or memoir? Ruth Adam really did move from London at the end of WWII with her family and friends to a 33 room manor in the English countryside. As seen on the alternate cover shown, the tone was similar to Jean Kerr‘s Please Don‘t Eat the Daisies- a lightly fictionalized real life experience, with eccentric characters, humorous escapades and comic disasters. Largely plotless, I liked it for its snapshot of England in transition.

MrsK Great review 😊. It did have the feel of short stories, all with the same theme, interwoven throughout. 1y
Tamra Perfect review! 😁 1y
See All 24 Comments
jlhammar Love the collage! That older cover does have a very different vibe. More fun/farcical city folks in the country. Our current cover is more the dream that they fall in love with. I think both work. Wonderful review! 1y
erzascarletbookgasm Great review! 1y
elkeOriginal I have to admit I am struggling due to lack of plot - I put it down halfway and forgot to continue because I do not find myself compelled back to it 😕 I clearly like being immersed in plot… 1y
Cathythoughts Great review Ruth 👍🏻❤️ @elkeOriginal I‘m struggling too .. It‘s not holding my interest 😬 we‘ve never had a bailer yet in our #FurrowedMiddleBrowClub … I might just put it on hold for awhile and see what it‘s like a bit later in the month … 1y
Cathythoughts Lovely collage 🥰 1y
Cathythoughts @elkeOriginal I think this was a good choice , I want to experience all these ‘ middlebrow‘ writers … ♥️ it‘s interesting to see the different approaches, and the different reactions we all have. 1y
Ruthiella @MrsK Thanks. 😊Yes, it took a little while for me to adjust. I think every time I crack open a DSP book I expect one thing but often get another! 1y
Ruthiella @Tamra Thank you! ☺️ 1y
Ruthiella @jlhammar Thanks! 🙏 I always read the introduction last and didn‘t at first realize it was based on Adam‘s life. 1y
Ruthiella @elkeOriginal I had a period in the middle where I bogged down a bit. The foreshadowing also made me at times less apt to read on. (edited) 1y
Ruthiella @Cathythoughts Thanks Cathy! 😊 Some books require a different mindset and/or reading space, for sure. 1y
quietjenn Yep, in my head, I keep thinking this is a memoir 🤣 1y
Ruthiella @quietjenn It kinda is, but I think she clearly changed a few bits (to protect the innocent)! 😂 1y
LeahBergen I must say that I pretty much read it as a memoir with a few name changes, like you said! 😆 And like @Cathythoughts and @elkeOriginal mention … I, too, set it down about halfway through (unintentionally but with a bit of lack of interest). Once I picked it up again and “forced” myself back into it, I flew through it. It certainly does have a different tone from our other reads in this group, doesn‘t it? It keeps things interesting. 😆 1y
Ruthiella @LeahBergen It does keep things interesting. I like the surprise factor since I typically know nothing but the title when I start reading! 1y
elkeOriginal @Ruthiella @LeahBergen @Cathythoughts I agree about how fun the variety of Furrowed books is! I will persevere with this one - and rescue it from becoming a bathroom book 🤦🏼‍♀️😉 1y
Jess_Read_This I must have completely missed this was fiction. I thought it was her memoir 😂 Perfect review! 1y
Ruthiella @Jess_Read_This Well, her daughter‘s name IRL was Corinna per Wikipedia, so I think she must have tweaked it a bit. 1y
rubyslippersreads I‘m reading this as a fictionalized memoir, like The Egg and I. Does her husband have a name? She seems to always just call him “my husband.” 😄 1y
Ruthiella @rubyslippersreads I don‘t think she ever does name him. The policeman, the Colonel‘s daughter, Howard‘s wife, the ninepence-in-the-shilling garden boy, etc all remain nameless. 😅 1y
60 likes2 stack adds24 comments
blurb
jlhammar
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Servants left records of their lives and jobs in the attics of Knole House. In one attic, archaeologists found a detailed, century-long record of snowfall documented by those who were charged with clearing it from the roof.

Found this fascinating article from Archaeology magazine 2016 (link in comments). I‘m about halfway through our Sept. read and delighting in all of the housekeeping details (and Howard).

#FurrowedMiddlebrowClub

batsy Thank you for sharing; I've bookmarked it to read but that looks super interesting. Also kind of blowing my mind that the plot of land its on has some remnants of Bronze Age civilisation. 1y
Cathythoughts That‘s amazing ! Thanks for sharing ❤️ 1y
See All 13 Comments
erzascarletbookgasm Truly fascinating! Thanks for sharing. 1y
Ruthiella Howard is a force unto himself! Thanks for the tip about the servants records! 1y
LeahBergen That‘s so cool!! 1y
Kimzey Cool! Thanks! ❄️ 1y
Tamra Awesome - thank you for sharing! 1y
MrsK Love little tidbits like that. Thanks 😊 1y
quietjenn That's so neat! Thank you for sharing. I'm not reading this this month, since I read the book just a few years ago, but it's been wonderful to see all the comments, connections and Internet sleuthing it's inspired. 1y
CarolynM Fascinating! Thanks for sharing. 1y
elkeOriginal ❤️Howard❤️ 1y
Jess_Read_This This is so neat! I love seeing the writing and names 1y
51 likes13 comments
review
LeahBergen
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Pickpick

Well, THIS one has certainly cured me of any “lady of the manor house” dreams I may have been entertaining. 😆

The author, along with her husband and four friends, leases a Kentish manor house after enduring the austerities of WWII London. As glorious as the house and the countryside turn out to be, it all becomes untenable when they realize that the upstairs/downstairs way of life of these places is no longer possible in a post-war world.

Leftcoastzen Love the mug , love your review! 1y
LeahBergen @Leftcoastzen Thanks! The wee Nippon cup was a recent find at a junky country antique shop. 😆 1y
Tamra I was just thinking the very same today! 😏 1y
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Ruthiella Great succinct review! I often daydream what I would do if I won the lottery and buying a big house (not a manor but say a beautiful two story California craftsman) is no longer part of the dream because just thinking about the upkeep makes me tired! 😂 1y
LeahBergen @Tamra @Ruthiella Right? Geez, I live in a small 1928 house and I think it‘s crumbling down around me. 🤣🤣 1y
batsy Love the picture. And well said; I totally feel we've been shown the "behind-the-scenes" of manor life in a vivid way! 1y
MrsK Wonderful review. Makes me think cover should contain a “Cautionary Tale” sort of subtitle 🤣. 1y
jlhammar @LeahBergen Oh, me too! I live in a 1914 American Foursquare and that is quite enough work. Endless projects. I have visions of our bathtub falling through the floor (like in the movie, The Money Pit) or my foot breaking through a stair tread. And so much dusting! But, we were charmed by the big fireplace and beautiful built-in buffet and other woodwork. 1y
Cathythoughts Great review! I‘m still reading , but yes I‘m so glad we have a small house … the thought of any more cleaning and painting and decorating 🙄🙄too much trouble. 😁 1y
Cathythoughts The beautiful flowers and garden are my favorite part so far. 1y
LeahBergen @batsy Thanks! 😘 1y
LeahBergen @MrsK It should! 😆 1y
LeahBergen @jlhammar Lucky you! Your house sounds gorgeous. 🥰 1y
LeahBergen @Cathythoughts I know! And the older I get, the lazier I get. 😆 1y
tpixie @LeahBergen lol 😂 fun thread! (edited) 1y
LeahBergen @tpixie 😆😆 1y
Jess_Read_This Hahaha! Same! No lady of the manor house dreams here. I don‘t have the energy for the upkeep! Fantastic review, Leah! 1y
84 likes2 stack adds19 comments
review
CarolynM
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Pickpick

This one didn‘t charm me as much as most of our other #furrowedmiddlebrowclub reads. I think it‘s because it was more about the events than the characters - I felt like I knew what happened in the house, but I didn‘t really know the people who lived there. Or maybe it‘s just my current mood. A low pick for me.

batsy Sorry it wasn't as good as you expected but lovely photo, though! Nothing better than book and a coffee 🙂 1y
MrsK It is hard to enjoy if you‘re expecting to have characters to connect with. Oh well…on to Thalia 😊 1y
Kimzey Thanks for the review! 1y
See All 10 Comments
Ruthiella I agree, it‘s not character focused at all. People emerge and recede from the story with no follow-through. I‘m enjoying it more for its historical and social aspects of post war UK. 1y
elkeOriginal Good point. I am halfway and wondered why I was not very invested - and you hit the nail in the head for me re: characters 👍🏻 1y
Cathythoughts I still havnt properly started. Interesting point you make , I love my characters more than anything 🤞🏻 1y
LeahBergen Ahh, so true. I kept wanting to know more about these people. And what happened to them later! Like @Ruthiella , I enjoyed what it had to say about the post-war era, though. 1y
Jess_Read_This I enjoyed the historical context and references. But I wish the characters had more depth and focus put on them as well. Nice review! 1y
Tamra Agreed, it wasn‘t personable. 1y
Rissreads These covers are exquisite! 💚 13mo
86 likes10 comments
quote
Tamra
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Definitely was an unsustainable lifestyle in the post war era. It‘s fascinating really to think how these estates had been nearly independent communities & economies, all with their own cast of characters & peculiarities.

#furrowedmiddlebrowclub

Ruthiella Totally. It took a small, poorly paid army of gardeners and domestics to run these great houses. In contrast to the last #FurrowedMiddlebrowClub book which very much bought into the status quo of the class system , this book admits it was an unfair system. 1y
batsy I like that we get a glimpse about how welfare acts and provisions made after the war were also bringing to light the unsustainability of it all by having a sort of minimum wage & leisure hours. The sheer amount of underpaid, overworked labour prior to keep those country houses going in the past... 1y
CarolynM @Ruthiella @batsy Those houses were the last relics of the feudal system - toiling in the house for your existence rather than in the fields or at war. 1y
Cathythoughts Good quote! Not a sustainable lifestyle. 1y
LeahBergen @batsy @CarolynM This book really made me realize just how quickly the welfare acts and other social advancements changed the “country house” life. 1y
49 likes5 comments
blurb
jlhammar
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It‘s a furrowed middlebrow kind of morning. My copy arrived yesterday. Can‘t wait to get started!

#FurrowedMiddlebrowClub

JamieArc I love this cover. Every time it show up in my Litsy feed I stop to admire it 😍 1y
Ruthiella I‘m not quite 50% done with it myself! 1y
Kimzey The teacup is perfect! I haven‘t started yet either. But it‘s next up! 1y
See All 9 Comments
batsy Love the teacup! 1y
jlhammar @Kimzey @batsy Thanks! It is part of a Mason‘s china set (Bow Bells) that belonged to my husband‘s grandmother. From the 1940s, I believe. I absolutely love the pattern. Feel so lucky they were passed on to us. 1y
quietjenn Perfect picture and such a nice teacup. 1y
Kimzey @jlhammar Lovely pattern! And so meaningful to have it as a family keepsake. 1y
LeahBergen I love the teacup, too! 1y
Bookwomble I echo the teacup love 💖😊 1y
67 likes1 stack add9 comments
review
batsy
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Pickpick

I very much enjoyed this fictionalised memoir of the period when Adam, her family, & a group of friends moved into a 33-room country manor in Kent. It's a great window into the post-war years in the UK, & it demystifies the romanticism of country living. The sheer amount of labour! It's poignant & bittersweet; a lot of joy & beauty plus comic moments, but also heartache & sadness. Adam is a thoroughly engaging writer; clever, witty, unsparing.

Tamra Fabulous review! 😄 1y
batsy @Tamra Thank you 🙂 1y
See All 18 Comments
AnnR I really enjoyed your review and added this book to my tbr list. I couldn't imagine to work involved to keep up a country manor with 33 rooms, even if some of them were empty or closed off. Country living during that time period could not have been romantic by any stretch of the imagination. 1y
Ruthiella Great review! I‘m not yet finished but I definitely feel the pull of the beauty and space allowed in county living vs the hard work of the upkeep! In some ways, their communal living seems quite forward thinking but the fact that 99.9% of the burden of the household lies on Ruth‘s shoulders-not so much. 1y
Kimzey Looking forward to getting started on this! Thanks for the review! 1y
elkeOriginal I agree on all points! 💯 1y
batsy @Ann_Reads Thanks! And yes, that's the part that struck me the most. Even with a few people employed, I can't imagine when the work ever stops 😯 1y
batsy @Ruthiella Thank you! That's a great point; it felt progressive in terms of their living arrangements (& also the post-war social changes re: domestic labour) but on the other hand, Ruth being the only wife & mother in the group meant that she became the "housewife" by default, so to speak. Quite revealing. 1y
batsy @Kimzey I hope you enjoy it! 🙂 1y
LeahBergen I‘m coming back to read this when I‘m done! 1y
batsy @LeahBergen I hope you're liking it! 1y
Cathythoughts Nice review 👍🏻♥️ 1y
batsy @Cathythoughts Thank you! ❤️ 1y
LeahBergen Great review! Yes, that demystifying of the country house life made this a very poignant read for me. 1y
batsy @LeahBergen Thank you! I too found it bittersweet. And by the end you can see it had taken its toll on her. 1y
Jess_Read_This Perfect review! You‘ve captured all my feelings on this book too. Well done! 1y
90 likes4 stack adds18 comments
blurb
MrsK
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Bucksford Manor, Great Chart with Singleton, Kent. Based on Ruth‘s description and landmarks I‘m pretty sure that this is The House in the Country ❤️. #furrowedmiddlebrowclub

batsy Oh wow, that's very cool if so! Thank you for the research and for sharing. Tagging @Tamra here too because she was interested and the rest as well 🙂 @CarolynM @Cathythoughts @erzascarletbookgasm @elkeOriginal @Jess_Read_This @LeahBergen @quietjenn @rubyslippersreads @Ruthiella @Sparklemn 1y
batsy Oh sorry, I've done a duplicate on the tagging... And missed some people I'm sure 🥴 1y
MrsK My fault…still getting used to the app. Is the a way to save a group for tagging that I‘m unaware of 🤨 1y
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Tamra Thank you - wonderful sleuthing! 1y
Kimzey Thanks for the photo! 1y
Cathythoughts Very nice 👍🏻 well done 🕵️ 1y
batsy @MrsK No, not that I'm aware of! I use the app on Android, but I don't know if there's a way to do it on OS. It would be super helpful to be able to save. 1y
Ruthiella Wow! That is a PILE! Thanks for the detective work! 1y
MrsK Ruth left all the clues. I just needed to find the right ordnance survey (former history major strikes again 😝). If you pull it up on google earth you can even see the cobbled courtyard where “At eight o‘clock every Saturday morning, the ninepence-in-the-shilling garden boy unlocked the inner door and swept it with a yard-broom” ❤️ (edited) 1y
quietjenn Impressive! Both your skills and the house! 1y
erzascarletbookgasm Wow! Great work! 👏 🔎 1y
LeahBergen Omg!! I was Googling away like mad yesterday, trying to find this house. You‘re awesome! 👏👏👏 1y
CarolynM Well done you!👏👏👏 It‘s not a particularly attractive house, is it? 1y
jlhammar Oh, fun to know - thank you! 1y
MrsK @CarolynM yeah…she‘s showing her age 😊 1y
Jess_Read_This Well done you! You are a fantastic book sleuth! I love that we now have a visual of the house to pair with the book. ❤️ 1y
MrsK @Jess_Read_This Thanks! I love when the author is able to describe with such vividness! It was Ruth‘s words that allowed me to find it 😊 1y
19 likes18 comments
blurb
LeahBergen
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Okay, #FurrowedMiddlebrowClub -ers … I‘ve finally started (and immediately immersed). 👍

Ruthiella Excellent! 👍 1y
Cathythoughts Oh great 👍🏻😃 1y
batsy It just welcomes you right in, doesn't it? (much as that manor must have done to visitors!) 1y
MrsK Can‘t wait to read what you think 😊 1y
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review
MrsK
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Pickpick

This hit a little close to home, as I also left my “forever” home sad and dissolutioned. But I still truly loved this. There is humor and poignancy, as well as triumph and disaster. It was also a great record of the significant changes occurring in Britain at the time. I happily Googled my way through, constantly looking up names, events, and phrases. No matter the sadness I felt, I will always see this for the humor, and the joy it gave me.

Tamra Did you happen to find a photo of the manor house? I did a cursory search and nothing relevant popped up. 1y
MrsK No luck here. All the clues are in the book for where it is…but pinning it down is tough. 1y
Ruthiella I‘m also enjoying how the book shows the social transitions happening in Britain at the time. 😀 1y
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Cathythoughts Lovely review 👍🏻♥️ I hope to get another bit read today. 1y
batsy Great review! ❤️ This book seems to really encapsulate a particular post-war moment in the UK. 1y
MrsK Was anyone else struck by the fact that Ruth‘s decision to move to the manor was actually to fulfill a promise to her mother? “It was the house I had promised to have, so that my mother could come and stay in it.” @batsy @Cathythoughts @Ruthiella @Tamra @LeahBergen @jlhammar @erzascarletbookgasm @Sparklemn @elkeOriginal @Jess_Read_This @Kimzey @catebutler @CarolynM @quietjenn @rubyslippersreads (edited) 1y
batsy @MrsK I was struck by that. Particularly poignant, I thought, considering how it ended and her own struggles as a mother in that house. 1y
MrsK What I do as so moved by was Adam‘s honesty regarding the fact that their time in the house was bookended by such personal losses. 1y
LeahBergen Ohhhh! The fact that her mother never got to experience the house. And the dark-hued sweet peas! 😢 They were a favourite of my Nan‘s so this was very touching for me. 1y
21 likes9 comments
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Cathythoughts
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‘ They say that when a stranger‘s face seems familiar, it is because it is like a forgotten face of your childhood. ‘

What a touching thought.♥️💔
I‘ve finally started , on page 10. ( so I‘ve a bit to go yet 😁)
@rubyslippersreads @quietjenn @Kimzey @erzascarletbookgasm @catebutler @CarolynM @LeahBergen @elkeOriginal @batsy @Tamra @jlhammar @Ruthiella @Sparklemn @MrsK @Jess_Read_This #FurrowedMiddleBrowClub

Tamra I can‘t get over the 15 kitchens - too much cleaning! 😜 1y
Ruthiella @Tamra Also, she hints at least once that she‘s also WRITING while being a full time domestic! And when Timmy complains about the “squalor”, I just want to strangle him! 😆 1y
Tamra @Ruthiella crazy! 😠 1y
Cathythoughts @Tamra @Ruthiella 15 kitchens! I can just cope with my one galley kitchen. Looks like this book will spark a bit of chat 😆 1y
LeahBergen I‘m hoping to start today! 👍 1y
56 likes5 comments
review
Jess_Read_This
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Pickpick

I enjoyed this quite a bit, being drawn in by the rural spell as the tenants were. I couldn‘t shake the feeling of melancholy that sat with me while reading. I think because the narrator sets the reader up for the inevitable departure? The domestic burden placed on the mother was overwhelming. I‘d be haunted by the scullery maid‘s ghost too! It felt like a social experiment at times bridging the gap between the old and new post war world.

Kimzey Thanks for the review! I brought it with me on my trip, but haven‘t started yet. Looking forward to reading it! (edited) 1y
Jess_Read_This Domestic Burden: which even shared amongst three women (two paid and organized into a 40 hour work week). It still read as the house ruled the mother. The amount of work to keep the place presentable was incredible. I could see the challenge in keeping anyone long term when other options for service/employment were available. Yet, I appreciated the begrudging love the family has for the house. I recognize that love in that of my love for my house (edited) 1y
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Tamra I‘m looking forward to the ghost! 👻 1y
Jess_Read_This @Tamra lol! The narrator refers to her a few times whenever things don‘t quite go her way in terms of the domestic burden of the house. 1y
batsy Great review! And you read fast 😁 I find the bits about the amount of labour involved truly mind-blowing. It truly demystifies the romanticism of a country manor, even though you can really feel the love that she had for the place. 1y
Jess_Read_This @batsy Thank you! I‘ve been home with a summer head cold this weekend with not much else do but recover and read. It‘s been nice to be able to get to the club books but I also appreciate the ability to breath through my nostrils again too 😂 1y
Ruthiella Wow! You read quickly! 😃 I‘m about 30% through and I know what you mean about the foreshadowing. It does cast a mood over it. So far it‘s reminding me of those American humorist housewives books and columns from the mid 20th century, Like Please Don‘t Eat the Daisies by Jean Kerr or The Egg and I by Betty McDonald or this fabulous Shirley Jackson collection (edited) 1y
Jess_Read_This @batsy I like how you put it “it truly demystifies the romanticism of a country manor” the book did that for me. I love a good country manor book setting and this one allowed me to see it for the hard work that running one actually is. 1y
Jess_Read_This @Ruthiella I actually just recently picked up a copy of Please Don‘t Eat the Daisies after watching the movie on Turner Classic Movies! I‘ve got a copy of Egg and I too- I haven‘t read it yet. Raising Demons is also one I haven‘t read yet. Good comparison! I hadn‘t thought to compare it to Daisies but you are 💯 right on that. 1y
LeahBergen Ooo, you‘re speedy! I‘ll come back and read this when I‘m done. 😆 1y
Cathythoughts Great review! I‘ve only read the first few pages, I need to get a move on. 1y
CarolynM I‘m just getting started. Like Leah I‘ll come back to your review when I‘ve finished reading🙂 1y
MrsK Wonderful review! I‘ve finished too and my review will follow soon. I will say that I was struck by the sense of melancholy throughout. (edited) 1y
LeahBergen Lovely review! I felt such a pervasive sense of sadness while reading this (which was not helped by all the coverage of the Queen‘s death that I watched at the same time 😆). 1y
Jess_Read_This @LeahBergen @MrsK The melancholy and sadness was hard to shake while reading for me. Leah, I couldn‘t imagine combining the coverage and reading this book!💔 1y
49 likes16 comments
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MrsK
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About to dive into my first #FurrowedMiddlebrowClub read!!! I‘ll let you know how it goes…

LeahBergen I‘m hoping you like it! 👍 1y
batsy Hope you enjoy! 1y
MrsK @LeahBergen @batsy I had to make myself put it down last night…definitely enjoying it. (edited) 1y
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Jess_Read_This
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☕️It‘s a pumpkin spice english muffin kind of morning.

🧈Reading Middlebrow fiction has made me appreciate some of life‘s luxuries… like butter. As I was over generously slathering it on today, I wondered how much of a ration I used on a single meal. And was grateful that I have so much.

📖The promising start I‘ve heard from other #FurrowedMiddlebrowClub members made me move this one to the top of the reading pile!

MrsK I suspect you may have used your entire months ration (2 oz as per Historic UK) in one morning 😜. Can‘t wait to start on my first #furrowedmiddlebrowclub read❤️ (edited) 1y
Jess_Read_This @MrsK 😬 That sounds about right.. I‘m a complete butter glutton. It‘s rather horrifying to realize in one sitting my entire month‘s ration would have been used up! I‘m looking forward to reading this month‘s book along with you. So glad you joined the group! 1y
batsy Love this post! And yes about wondering how to cope with rations; I take so much for granted. 1y
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Jess_Read_This @batsy I‘ve been realizing I take a lot for granted when I read this genre. I‘ve been astounded wondering how everyone coped with so much uncertainty, especially in an age where news wasn‘t updated by the minute as it happens and available at a push of a button. I can‘t imagine the years of not knowing what the future held and how precarious lives were. 1y
MrsK What most don‘t realize is that rationing was more to divert the products for use in making essential military supplies. Butter contains glycerin which was used to make things like gunpowder. Sorry…I was originally a history major and a font of useless information😁 (edited) 1y
Jess_Read_This @MrsK I didn‘t realize that! I had assumed it was to divert food for troop consumption. I had no idea about glycerin and gunpowder. That‘s fascinating. Please keep sharing all your “useless” or rather in my opinion, fascinating bits of information! 😁 I enjoy the learning and it helps with perspective and context when reading. 1y
jlhammar Can‘t wait to start this! Lovely photo. Your post reminded me of this fascinating nonfiction title I read years ago and loved. 1y
Tamra Perfect start! 1y
Jess_Read_This @jlhammar Thank you for sharing that book with me. I haven‘t heard of it before and it sounds like one I need to read! Just stacked it now and will be getting a copy of it. I‘m looking forward to reading this one with you! 1y
MrsK @jlhammar I need to find that one. 1y
batsy @Jess_Read_This Yes, and this book kind of deals with all of that obliquely. Hence the fantasy of a country home (much of it to do with self-sufficiency). She briefly mentions the fuel crisis in England in 1947 and it feels so pertinent right now. 1y
batsy @jlhammar That book sounds fascinating; thanks for sharing. 1y
LeahBergen @jlhammar That book sounds awesome! I‘ll be hunting down a copy, too. 👍 1y
52 likes13 comments
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batsy
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Too funny that I come across this right after your comment @Leftcoastzen 😆

#furrowedmiddlebrowclub

Ruthiella Wow! How perfect! 😮 1y
batsy @Ruthiella Isn't it just 🙂 1y
LeahBergen 😆😆 1y
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CarolynM 😆 1y
jlhammar That really is too funny! Love it. 1y
Jess_Read_This I love this! Honestly, the entire page spoke to me with the description of a lovely meal and evening. Complete with that furrowed brow! 😆 1y
batsy @Jess_Read_This Yes! 💕 I laughed out loud at the later bits where she's trying to manage most of the labour on her own, so it's pretty funny too, imo. 1y
60 likes8 comments
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batsy
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Getting some #furrowedmiddlebrowclub morning reading in. Got this down from the shelf yesterday & opened it just to have a glance through before I started, but I guess I've started 😁 It immediately drew me in. Adam is a clever & engaging writer & I'm enjoying it so far. Didn't know much about her before I started but looked up her Wiki page & she sounds like she had a fascinating life!

Ruthiella Adding @Sparklemn ! I keep trying to add her to my original post but Litsy won‘t let me! 😩 Love the Snoopy mug! 1y
Leftcoastzen Love snoopy mug , does he have a furrowed middle brow?😁 1y
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batsy @Ruthiella Noted and hope you can join us @Sparklemn ! And yes, Litsy has been a tad glitchy for me on and off for about a week now? Especially with posting comments. 1y
batsy @Leftcoastzen Well played 😁 1y
Leftcoastzen @batsy 👏😄 1y
LeahBergen @Leftcoastzen He does! 😆😆 1y
LeahBergen @Ruthiella I know! I always seem to miss someone in my tags. 😕 1y
LeahBergen @batsy And now you have me even more excited to pluck it from my shelves. 👏👏 1y
batsy @LeahBergen Yay! It's very pleasant and absorbing so far. 1y
Sparklemn Thanks for including me! I plan to start it soon. It sounds like it's starting off good! 1y
Cathythoughts That‘s all good to hear .. must start soon 👍🏻♥️ 1y
CarolynM Very good @Leftcoastzen 😂 I think we should adopt this as our #FurrowedMiddlebrowClub logo and get T-shirts made. What do you think @LeahBergen ? 1y
batsy @Sparklemn @Cathythoughts It's off to a lovely start 🙂 1y
quietjenn Yes to that mug and the suggestion by @CarolynM 😆 1y
LeahBergen @CarolynM Yes! 🤣🤣🤣 1y
elkeOriginal HA - me too. Opened for a peek and got sucked in! 1y
Jess_Read_This Ohh! I love to hear that a club book is good right from the get go! 1y
batsy @elkeOriginal Love when that happens! 1y
batsy @Jess_Read_This I hope it stays good and everyone enjoys it 🙂 1y
nathandrake1997 I want that coffee mug! 1y
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Tamra
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Oh my gosh - I get to read a #furrowedmiddlebrowclub selection without the looming cloud of prospective coursework. Pure bliss! 👏🏾

Ruthiella Excellent! 👏👏👏 1y
Andrea313 Bliss indeed! I loved this one- hope you do, too! 1y
batsy Aaah... Perfect! 1y
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LeahBergen I‘m all pleased for you! 👏👏 1y
erzascarletbookgasm Awesome 👏 1y
Cathythoughts Wonderful 😁♥️ 1y
Jess_Read_This Yay!! Can‘t wait to hear your thoughts on this one! 1y
58 likes7 comments
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Ruthiella
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Hi Reading Friends! This is to remind you of the #FurrowedMiddlebrowClub pick for September. Read along at your own pace and comment and review as you choose. This is a very low pressure buddy read!

I‘m tagging @Sparklemn who expressed interest in joining in July. If anyone else wants to be tagged, let me know! All are welcome. 😃

jlhammar I'm going to try to join you all. Just ordered the book. Looking forward to it! 1y
Ruthiella @jlhammar Excellent! 😃 1y
LeahBergen Thanks! I‘m looking forward to this one. 👍 1y
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Tamra Yay!! 👏🏾 1y
batsy Thanks! I'm looking forward to this 🏡 1y
erzascarletbookgasm I‘m sitting this one out, as I‘ve forgotten to order my copy! 🤦‍♀️ 1y
Ruthiella @erzascarletbookgasm We‘ll catch you again in November! It‘s your turn to pick the next title. 😀 (edited) 1y
CarolynM Thanks! I'm ready to go 🙂 1y
Cathythoughts Thanks so much ! I hadn‘t realised how fast the time was going. I wasn‘t sure which book was next … all good now. I‘ll go up and get my copy from my ( fast growing) #FurrowedMiddleBrowClub stack 👍🏻😊 1y
LeahBergen @catebutler @elkeOriginal @erzascarletbookgasm @rubyslippersreads @quietjenn @CarolynM @Cathythoughts @batsy @Kimzey @Jess_Read_This I was just thinking we should vote on our next two picks to give everyone time to order. What do you all think? @erzascarletbookgasm has our November read and @rubyslippersreads has our book for January. Would you two like to post your options for us? I love voting day. 😆 1y
LeahBergen @erzascarletbookgasm Too bad! This book is available in a Kindle edition on Amazon (if that‘s an option for you in your country). 😘 1y
batsy @LeahBergen Great idea! I'm always super excited about our future picks 😁 1y
rubyslippersreads @LeahBergen Just posted my picks! 😊 1y
LeahBergen @batsy Me, too! 1y
LeahBergen @rubyslippersreads And I‘ve immediately voted 😆 1y
MrsK I just discovered Furrowed Middlebrow! I‘ve read many of D. E. Stevenson‘s books (Miss Buncle and Mrs. Tim series‘s). I may ask to join you all soon!? 1y
Ruthiella @MrsKinvestigates But of course! 😊 Do you want to start with this title or in November? We only read a book every other month. 1y
MrsK Thank you! 😊 I‘ll start with this one! Can you tell me what our responsibilities are? 1y
Ruthiella @MrsKinvestigates Very light responsibilities! 😂 Read the book and tag everyone if you have a comment or when you review. If you look at the #FurrowedMiddlebrowClub tag, you can get an idea of how we roll. Our last title was (edited) 1y
MrsK @Ruthiella👌. Thank you! 1y
Tamra @MrsKinvestigates it‘s a really fabulous low key & friendly group! 😊 1y
Tamra @erzascarletbookgasm echo @LeahBergen - I download my copies to Kindle. I hope you can do the same. 1y
Kimzey I have my copy and hope to get started over the weekend! 1y
CarolynM Welcome @MrsKinvestigates, lovely to have you join us🙂 1y
batsy It's a lovely lowkey group @MrsKinvestigates 😊 Welcome! 1y
erzascarletbookgasm @MrsKinvestigates Lovely to have you on board 1y
LeahBergen @MrsKinvestigates That‘s great! Welcome aboard. We start (usually) around the first of the month and aim to be done (usually) 😆 around the 15th but we always have early and late finishers. Use the spoiler button to cover anything surprising that you‘d like to post. 1y
Cathythoughts @MrsKinvestigates Welcome! We are really enjoying these books , I hope you will too 👍🏻❤️ 1y
elkeOriginal Excited to read this one - once I finish my current book! 1y
Jess_Read_This I‘ve got this one on my shelf (I think lol) Count me in and heading over to vote now! 1y
Jess_Read_This @MrsK 💐Welcome to the club! 1y
MrsK @LeahBergen has the book for November been decided on? Book Depository cart anxiously awaiting 😝 1y
LeahBergen @MrsK I‘ll do a final tally and make a post today! 😄 1y
50 likes35 comments
review
Andrea313
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Pickpick

Six friends in post-WW2 England, weary from the dark, crowded London war years, up sticks and move to a 33-room country house in Kent for a life full of fresh air and spacious living. Determined to make the new arrangement work (while also allowing for a humane 40-hour work week for the manor's staff), the author soon learns that this particular house "was born to be served and not to serve." A lovely story of a dream come true- and the afterward.

EvieBee This sounds great! I went to go buy on Kindle and realized I already own it, lol (edited) 2y
Andrea313 @EvieBee Ha! The ideal situation! 😂 2y
LeahBergen Nice review! I have this waiting on my shelves. 2y
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Andrea313
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I love a good #BookHaul day! Three gorgeous new-to-me titles have arrived, and surprise, surprise, I plan to spend the entire weekend reading! #NewIn #CurrentlyReading

Cathythoughts Looking good 👍👍👍 2y
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LeahBergen
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Oops. Book mail!

I bought 4 of the latest batch of #FurrowedMiddlebrow books by #DeanStreetPress (they published 6 but I already owned 2 of them 😆).

Two more in the next post...

Ruthiella So pretty! 😍 3y
Nute Very pretty! 3y
Cathythoughts Gorgeous covers ! I‘ll have to investigate.... 3y
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rockpools How could you not love a book called ‘Much Dithering‘!? 3y
CarolynM These books look so lovely! When am I going to find time for them all? 3y
Centique Oh they‘re delicious looking! 😍 3y
batsy @rockpools So true! 😁 3y
batsy Aah, they do their covers so well! 3y
quietjenn I think I bought most of these releases as well, as ebooks! 3y
LeahBergen @rockpools Right?? And, even better? It‘s the name of the village in this book. 😆 3y
LeahBergen @CarolynM Sigh. I have so many of them still TBR and yet I keep buying more. 😆 3y
LeahBergen @quietjenn Do you follow Dean Street Press on Twitter? They offer one of their releases as a free e-book each week. 😊 3y
quietjenn @LeahBergen oo, no! My Twitter is very neglected but that would be worth paying attention to! 3y
71 likes3 stack adds14 comments