A bittersweet description of an ancient family house in an enchanted setting, and of growing up with a damaged brother.
William Fiennes spent his childhood in a moated castle, the perfect environment for a child with a brimming imagination. It is a house alive with history, beauty, and mystery, but the young boy growing up in it is equally in awe of his brother Richard. Eleven years older and a magnetic presence, Richard suffers from severe epilepsy. His illness influences the rhythms of the family and the houses internal life, and his story inspires a journey, interwoven with a loving recollection, toward an understanding of the mind.
This is a song of home, of an adored brother and the miracle of consciousness. The chill of dark historical places coexists with the warmth and chatter of the family kitchen; the surrounding landscapes are distinguished by ancient trees, secret haunts, the moats depths and temptations. Bursting with tender detail, The Music Room is a sensuous tribute to place, memory, and the permanence of love.
The school assembly hall was closed for renovations
and on Sundays we walked to a church for our weekly
service. We spread rumours along pews and daydreamed
through sermons until one visiting preacher secured our
attention by hoisting a bag onto the pulpit rim – a scuffed
black leather bag with accordion pleats at each end, a bag
a doctor might take on night visits – and unpacking metal
stands and clamps we recognized from science labs, and
various jars and packages he ranged along the shelf in front
of him. He was in his fifties, dressed in a grey suit and a
black shirt with a white dog collar, and he didn't say anything
while preparing his equipment, tightening a clamp
on a retort stand, fixing a cardboard tube between the jaws.
He struck a match; a fuse caught and sizzled; he shook the match out and stepped back to watch the flame. Then we understood that what he'd clamped to the stand was a firework. The tube flared with a soft, ...
The Music Room lacks the gossipy tone prevalent among so many current memoirs; it exposes no family scandal or deep emotional scars, and pushes no political agenda. It is, however, a gentle love-filled memoir which should appeal to many, especially those with an interest in modern castle life!
(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Full Review (725 words).
The unnamed location of William Fiennes' memoir is Broughton Castle, a medieval manor house near the village of Broughton, two miles southwest of Banbury, in the county of Oxfordshire, England.
The estate is situated at the confluence of three streams, making it an ideal
location for a fortified manor house complete with moat. No one is sure when the
first building was constructed at the site, but parts of the current structure
date to around 1300 CE, when Sir John de Broughton II began developing it.
The property was sold in 1377 to William of Wykeham (Bishop of Winchester;
Chancellor of England; founder of both Winchester College and New College, Oxford).
His descendent, Margaret ...
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