26 January 2015

separated at birth: a pile of stones etc.

Andrea Chapin's first novel The tutor builds on an imaginary tutoring by William Shakespeare of Katherine de L'Isle, daughter of the Lancashire family who live in a Norman castle. The book is due soon from Riverhead Books. The castle is based on a house in the Hudson Valley that Chapin's family lived in early in the 20th century. It was a castle too and the family left when their fortunes faded with the Great War. Like many large houses, it was a bit of a stylistic hodgepodge. The family even lost track of exactly where it was though they rediscovered it in the 1980s and were able to tour it with the family that lives there now. By the way, Chapin thinks that Benedict Cumberbatch would make a fine architect for the movie she imagines. The architect character is built on real-life Robert Smythson, the Elizabethan architect. This book sounds pretty interesting as does a just-out novel based around Charles Rennie Mackintosh: Mr. Mac and Me, by Esther Freud, daughter of painter Lucian Freud. That book was reviewed in yesterday's New York Times Book Review. The information about Chapin, her book, and the house is from an interview in the Home section of Thursday's New York Times (the picture is from the interview article).

Reading about that hodgepodge reminded me of the imaginary "library with house attached" doodled up for me by one of the art history grad students when I was my first job as an art librarian. Arnie Klukas was an adamant medievalist and Episcopal and shared my interest in all things medieval and architectural, and brutalism and eclecticism. On and on, I love it all so he drew me up a house built around the core of a romanesque chapel and cloister. The newest part of the house is the brutalist garage. This was the 1970s, after all.

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