Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Long Weekend (Adrian Tinniswood)

Adrian Tinniswood’s The Long Weekend is a brilliantly paced read on the golden era of the English country house between the two world wars.  Tinniswood’s historical work touches on all facets of life in the 1920’s and 1930’s for Britain’s political class, nobility, and socialites -- from the architectural look of the country house to the lifestyle of those who resided in it. Details about the lives of the Astors, Windsors, and Churchills and their estates are given proper coverage…and of course, Edward VIII’s many, many ladies.

The era and lifestyle of many of those who resided in these homes would closely resemble that of the popular British show Downton Abbey, and Tinniswood’s well-researched work closely overlaps the time of the show, extending beyond its ending to cover the golden era’s decline and the fate that many of these homes faced in later years.  Unlike the Granthams of Downton fame, however, many of the residents of these country homes were not there full time, living primarily in London or in some cases even the United States, utilizing these properties for weekend or holiday use.

The author crafts together a fast-paced but intellectual read (290 pages can be trotted through with ease), full of detail of both sophistication of the elite and the sophistry of affairs, double lives, and of lifestyles that were frowned upon in an earlier time.  It’s arguably one of the finer books on the subject of English 20th Century life and certainly well worth your time to read over a long weekend…or a short vacation!