I finally found it. I have been looking for this book for about 20 years. And I finally found it on Amazon.com!!!! Thank you to the Gods of Amazon, because this is THE book I have been wanting to hold in my hands since I was about 14 years old.
Yes, I first signed this book out from the little community library where I grew up in Canada about 20 years ago. I read it cover-to-cover and enjoyed it so much, I signed it out again and again. In fact, when the library “retired” the book, my name was the only name on the card (so I’m told). I had not seen hide nor hair of the book since.
I hold in my hands the most insanely entertaining book that a house/art/literature lover could ever dream of!
Literary Houses: Ten Famous Houses in Fiction (1982) is a book written by Jamaican/Canadian/Englishwoman Rosalind Ashe (a pseudonym for Rosaline Dale-Harris) and illustrated by a collection of talented artists.
As the title suggests, ten houses from classic literary works are profiled and illustrated in great detail – complete with imagined floor plans!
True house nerds will share my enthusiasm about this book; everyone else will be like, um, what?
So for those who enjoy pouring over fictional floor plans and being lost in the pages of Victorian era novels, read on.
From the book blurb:
You will be able to peer into Dorian Gray’s house in Grosvenor Square and see the famous portrait; you will be shown round the eerie chapel of Castle Dracula; see the lavish partying at Gatsby’s mansion at West Egg and look at the strange desolate chaos of Miss Havisham’s house. You will also be given an insight into Manderley, Northanger Abbey, Howard’s End, Thornfield Hall, the House of the Seven Gables and Baskerville Hall. This fascinating book will appeal both to those coming to these classic stories for the first time and encourage others to re-read old favorites with this companion volume at their elbow.
The author has created highly engrossing 3-4 page imagined house tour vignettes. She utilizes either first, second or third person point-of-view narratives set in the location and time period of each novel. This achieves the effect of inserting the reader right there into the story of each featured book.
Rosalind Ashe is a skilled writer, clearly versed in the language and paradigms of the historic era in which each of the famous novels was written.
The reader is not just a fly on the wall but an active participant in the stories, often walking through the very rooms in the books and getting glimpses of – or even interacting with – the notorious characters from the novels.
Notably, the illustrations and floor plans of these famous fictional houses are all crafted exclusively fromthe text – not the real life estates, castles, and mansions that are rumored to have inspired the fictional dwellings in the author’s imaginations.
Part of the intrigue of this book is the way Ashe draws the reader into each novel by highlighting a central mystery/tragedy from the storyline – but then leaves you hanging and wanting to know the full story. Many of the scenarios which Ashe dreamt up go something like this: you are running scared in the green hills of England and take refuge in a burnt out ancestral mansion (which turns out to be the former home of Jane Eyre)… or something like that. I’m not doing justice to her creativity here, but you get the idea.
I just about drowned in the wonderment of this amazing book – a book that I had fallen in love with many years prior. My kids had to throw me a life-preserver and by that I mean: “Mo-om, when are you going to make dinner??”
That was the quickest Kraft Dinner I ever threw together.
Imagine my delight when I saw on Amazon that Rosalind Ashe wrote a second book called: More Literary Houses!
More house-lit porn to drool over!
If you want to get your paws on this book, you can purchase it on Amazon here.