A House Unlocked: Complete & Unabridged

A House Unlocked: Complete & Unabridged

3.51 (147 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$64.94

Currently unavailable

We can notify you when this item is back in stock

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


Penelope Lively recalls Golsoncott, the country house in Somerset her grandparents bought in 1923. Golsoncott was touched by the cataclysmic events of the 20th century: the Russian Revolution, the Holocaust, the Blitz. 'A House Unlocked' charts the social changes and transforming moments of the last century. Shifting attitudes to class, the tension between town and country, and how one learns to see the world.show more

Product details

  • Audio cassette
  • ISIS Publishing
  • ISIS Audio Books
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Unabridged
  • Unabridged
  • 0753113511
  • 9780753113516

Review quote

'"a rattling good read, " . . . Highly recommended for all libraries.'show more

Review Text

A memoir from novelist Lively (Spiderweb, 1999, etc.) in which the personal opens onto the greater social vista with the help of grace and a gimlet eye, as nearly an entire century reverberates inside an English country house. Lively's family purchased the Somerset home in 1923, and she uses its rooms and furnishings like one of "the mnemonic devices of the classical and medieval art of memory," bearing "witness to the public traumas of a century." The elements of the house can be emotive trappings as simple as a picnic rug recalling a moorland lunch or weightier signifiers of social change and historical clamor. Lively allows the past to be touched but never obscured by a sepia haze in prose that is remarkably comfortable, setting the stage as cozily as a panful of embers warming a winter bed, and rendering contrasting episodes like the Blitz all the more melancholy or horrible. She ranges freely, from the opening of the country's west by the Great Western Railway to the importance the Romantic poets and, gradually, an entire nation placed on walking, to church-touring with her grandmother ("and thus learned about iconoclasm and had a sudden startling insight into the power of prejudice and conviction and coercion"), turning from the garden as a veritable botanical marvel-ancient and compelling-to pastoral idealism, fox-hunting, and relations (or the lack thereof) between the sexes and between children and adults in Edwardian England. The best moments come when strangers arrive at the house and leave their mark as children evacuated from the Blitz, evoking the social reforms the evacuation sparked, or as political refugees from Russia, with all the baggage of simply being Russian during the first half of the 20th century. As Lively shapes the greater social picture, she keeps it invested with a personal stake, making her world a deeply lived experience. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

147 ratings
3.51 out of 5 stars
5 13% (19)
4 41% (60)
3 34% (50)
2 9% (13)
1 3% (5)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X