Review by Cliff Blundell (November 2008)
‘If you have doubts – be prepared to walk away. An old home, particularly one that needs work, is a major commitment that should not be entered into lightly.’ This advice could almost be to someone considering marriage and surely indicates the necessity for a similar depth of commitment. This book is steeped in the SPAB approach and can be seen as almost a combination of various SPABcourses writ large – the Homeowners Course shining through with valuable and revealing light.
Marianne has been the force behind the development and refinement of those courses, in her role as Education and Promotions Officer for SPAB and her totally genuine passion for the subject means we have a book from a co-author whose enthusiasm is as equal to her knowledge of both the practicalities and the aesthetics of old hose repair. I don’t know Roger Hunt, but from the brief author ‘blurb’ it is interesting and noteworthy that he recognises a SPAB Homeowners Course as a major turning point in his life and to co-author such a book shows clearly which direction that turn took.
Highlighted boxes in each chapter list bullet point that are well chosen and considered and lead the reader into seek mode, encouraging a more detailed exploration of that chapter – a device that works well. A great deal of care and thought has gone into the selection of the numerous illustrations, which are appropriately high quality, both photographs and drawings and leave no room for ambiguity, as can sometimes be the case with ‘how to’ books.
Comprehensive is the word that applies in this case there is not an important aspect left unconsidered that I can spot, as the chapter headings indicate – a list that if I were to include would wipe out my remaining word allowance.
This book is exactly what it says on the cover – a Practical Guide to Care and Repair of Old Houses, and it is a good, well-written beautifully illustrated book based in deep experience and passion for the subject. To produce something so complete and accessible is rare. I can only say to both authors: well done indeed.
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