Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Book Review: A Country Life, at Home in the English Countryside, by Roy Strong

I got this book by accident, it is not my usual type of reading material. Our local library has a very handy online catalog system that is great for looking up books and putting holds on them, from the convenience of your home computer.

That said, it is not without a few bugs; every once in a while it refuses to show you the thumbnail picture of the book's cover. This may not be a problem for most people but I love checking out design books and drooling over the pictures; I don't actually like to read them. This book came up in one of my searches and from the title I assumed it was another pretty picture book.

It wasn't.

I decided to read it anyway.

At first I was just dabbling to see if it held my attention and surprisingly it did.

This book is not a novel, it's not a story with a beginning, middle, and end. It's more like a series of blogs or diary entries. It's about a man, his wife, and a few cats and their life living in an English country house.

Each entry is short, two pages at most, and they are divided by season. Small--maybe insignificant--adventures and observations about the garden or the locals fill most of the pages. There is something so sweet about this book, it's peaceful.

Roy Strong's writing is just... I don't know what, I like it. In a novel it would probably sound overly pretentious, almost snobby, but here, to me at least it didn't. His writing reminds me of Jane Austen's style, he uses words intentionally, something that seems lost in a lot of writing. I'm not trying to say he is the next Jane Austen, though I'm sure he would appreciate it, but his writing smacks of irony in a very similar way.

My favorite entry is titled Walking the Cat. After losing one of their cats to a disease that is spread by feral cats, Roy and his wife decide against letting their new cats roam free. This results in the "need" to take their cats on daily walks. I had to read that entry to Danny, it was so cute.

I'm a little embarrassed to say this, but my own internal narrator speaks very much like Roy Strong writes.

I give this book five stars out of five. Some people may be bored by it (I hope not), but I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you're in the mood for a book, or a pace, that's a little different, give this one a try and don't forget to let me know what you think!

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