Adrian Tinniswood is the author of The Rainborowes, Life in the English Country Cottage, and the recently released The Long Weekend: Life in the English Country House, 1918-1939. From his Q&A with Deborah Kalb:
Q: How did you come up with the idea for The Long Weekend, and why did you focus on the period between World War I and World War II?--Marshal Zeringue
A: I’ve been in love with the English stately home for most of my life. At different times I’ve been exasperated by its stuffiness. I’ve despaired at the reactionary rose-tinted nostalgia that envelops it.
But all it takes is a glimpse of high chimneys across a park - a twitch upon the thread, to borrow the phrase Evelyn Waugh uses in a different context in Brideshead Revisited - and all the doubts disappear. I can’t explain it.
Part of the traditional view of the country house that I grew up with was that the decades between the wars were a period of decline. And yet it seemed to me that there was a parallel story to be told, of a vibrant social world in which the country house managed not only to survive, but to prosper.
As I say in the preface to The Long Weekend, the period 1918-1939 saw new families buying, borrowing and sometimes building themselves a country house. It introduced new aesthetics, new social structures, new meanings to an old tradition. That parallel narrative saw new life in the country house. And that is...[read on]