Books to curl up with: a librarian's musings

Monday, June 26, 2006

Castles with bats and rats

Some people choose to buy sunny little villas in the south of France. Judy Corbett and her husband Peter decided to buy a derelict building in Wales named Gwydir Castle. The ancestral home of the Wynn Family has seen better days. The roof leaks. Parts of the house were gutted by fire. Bats, rats and other creatures have moved in through the holes in the roof and windows. An early auction even sold off the paneling from the walls. Did I mention that the electric and plumbing don't really work in the few parts of the house that have them? Oh, and floods go through the basement every spring.

Knowing all that, you must believe the subtitle to Castles in the Air , which is The Restoration Adventures of Two Young Optimists and a Crumbling Old Mansion. You'd have to be a cockeyed optimist to take this on. Judy and her husband are passionate about history and want to do a proper job. They take on the various critters and leaks. They find a motley band of helpers to help them repair their castle on a budget. Along the way they confront a malevolent ghost. They track down one of the rooms from William Randolph Hearst to the New York Museum of Art. The two shy castle owners, even gasp, gather their courage and give tours of the work in progress to pay the bills.

I really enjoyed this book. My only remark would be that the book covers five years and it seems more compressed when you read it. However this is a small quibble. I hope that she writes more. I'm dying to see if they can track down the other room from the old auction. After all Prince Charles is helping them now.


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