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My Life in Houses by Margaret Forster

Sue Baker's view...

Perhaps those “in charge” could spare the time to read My Life in Houses to remind them how housing is fundamental not just for protection from the elements but as a home, a place to be ourselves. To be harried from let to let isn’t good for family life, for children or for the community. You are made even more aware of the protection of a house when Margaret Forster recalls her time with cancer and her house became a longed-for refuge. Home and family from Carlisle to London – with side journeys into other houses, a wonderful portrayal of home and what it means to us.

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The House by the Thames: and the People Who Lived There, Gillian Tindall
Home: The Story of Everyone Who Ever Lived in Our House, Julie Myerson

If you like Margaret Forster you might also like to read books by Rose Tremain, Linda Grant and Maureen Duffy.

Who is Sue Baker

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. Margaret Forster begins this memoir, which centres on the houses she has lived in from childhood to the present day, with a quotation from Leonard Woolf: ‘…what has the deepest and most permanent effect upon oneself and one’s way of living is the house in which one lives. The house determines the day-to-day, minute-to-minute quality, colour, atmosphere, pace of one’s life; it is the framework of what one does, of what one can do, of one’s relations with people…’ As she catalogues her various dwelling-places from the family home in Carlisle to the initially unpromising London house in which she would raise her own children and which would become so much more to her than mere bricks and mortar, so she reflects on the nature and significance of ‘home’. Quietly compelling, straightforward but profound, this book is an unsentimental but affecting life story with a difference.
~ Karen Howlett


My Life in Houses by Margaret Forster

'I was born on May 25, 1938, in the front bedroom of a house in Orton Road, on the outer edges of Raffles, a council estate. I was a lucky girl.' So begins Margaret Forster's journey through the houses she's lived in, from that sparkling new council house, built as part of a utopian vision by Carlisle City Council, to her beloved London house of today, via Oxford, Hampstead, the Lake District and a spell in the Mediterranean. This is not a book about bricks and mortar, or about how a house becomes a home with the right scatter of cushions. This is a book about what houses are to us, the effect they have on the way we live our lives. It is also a wonderful backwards glace at the changing nature of our accommodation: from blacking grates and outside privies; to cities dominated by bedsits and lodgings; to houses today being converted back into single dwellings, all open-plan spaces and bringing the outside in. Finally, it is a gently insistent, personal inquiry into the meaning of home.

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'This is a beautiful, wise, profoundly moving book that had me gripped from start to finish... I love the unflinching quietness with which she delivers the most brutal of truths, as well as the exact and delicious descriptions of rooms, furnishings, gardens and neighbours... This is my favourite kind of book; one that is written with unshowy consummate skill, and which challenges me to think in a new way.'

- Rachel Joyce

'An enthralling account of her relationship with the houses she has loved... I think many people reading it will respond -- as I did -- to her very personal bond with the houses she has occupied, changed and drawn comfort from... and it is so movingly honest.'

-Virginia Nicholson, author of SINGLED OUT

'A wonderful, and affecting book about what makes a home, and the effect where we live has on how we live our lives.'

-Bookseller, Editor's Pick

About the Author

Margaret Forster

Born in Carlisle, Margaret Forster is the author of many successful and acclaimed novels, including Have the Men Had Enough?, Lady's Maid, Diary of an Ordinary Woman, Is There Anything You Want?, Keeping the World Away, and Over, bestselling memoirs (Hidden Lives and Precious Lives) and biographies. She died in February 2016.

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Book Info

Publication date

25th February 2016


Margaret Forster

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Vintage an imprint of Vintage Publishing


272 pages


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