Book Review: Rooms of One's Own by Adrian Mourby

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Title: Rooms of One's Own: 50 Places that Made Literary History
Author: Adrian Mourby
Publication Date: 26 June 2017

Synopsis: "Writers' relationships with their surroundings are seldom straightforward. While some, like Jane Austen and Thomas Mann, wrote novels set where they were staying (Lyme Regis and Venice respectively), Victor Hugo penned Les Miserables in an attic in Guernsey and Noel Coward wrote that most English of Plays, Blithe Spirit, in the Welsh holiday village of Portmeirion.

Award-winning BBC drama producer Adrian Mourby follows his literary heroes around the world, exploring 50 places where great works of literature first saw the light of day. At each destination - from the Brontes' Yorkshire Moors to the New York of Truman Capote, Christopher Isherwood's Berlin to the now-legendary Edinburgh cafe where J. K. Rowling plotted Harry Potter's first adventures - Mourby explains what the writer was doing there and describes what the visitor can find today of that great moment in literature.

Rooms of One's Own takes you on a literary journey from the British Isles to Paris, Berlin, New Orleans, New York, and Bangkok and unearths the real-life places behind our best-loved works of literature."

My thoughts: This is a lovely little book to sit down with and fly around the world from your armchair. Mourby has done the leg-work for you: checking out places from almost every continent and giving you descriptions of both the place as it was and as it is now, as well as details about the author in question: their life, their writing, sometimes their death.

I was happily ensconced with this book of an afternoon, and it didn't take me a long time to power my way through it. I really loved some of the descriptions, but it does pay to notice that the ones you are most interested in tend to be the ones you know more about previously. A few of the authors in this book I had not come across before, or had only a vague idea of whom Mourby was speaking, and that kind of made the experienced a little muddied.

A few of Mourby's descriptions (or perhaps this was just is writing style) left a little to be desired for me, too, as occasionally I felt he got too caught up in his own feelings about a place or a person, and departed from the 'story' a little too much. However, this was interspersed with some really beautiful sentences, so overall the book was an enjoyable read.

My particular favourites were Beatrix Potter in Cumbria, and Lafcadio Hearn in Japan. Some of the descriptions made me want to get back to reading the author's work, and I think that was a perfect result.

[I received a review copy of this book from Allen & Unwin in exhange for an honest review. Thank you!!]

You would like this book if: You enjoy small forays into the world of writers and their places of production.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Scour the interwebs for your favourite author's preferred beverage. Drink in abundance (unless tis alcohol, then please drink responsibly).

Rating:  6.5/10

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