Monday, September 9, 2013

The Old Rectory by Julia Ibbotson

As Julia Ibbotson and her husband took stock once the children were gone, they decided that they wanted a change.  They decided what they really wanted as their lifestyle was to move to a more rural setting in England, one where they could be close to the land and its rhythms, where life was slower and easier to savor.  After an extensive search, they found what they thought was the perfect house.  A former rectory, it had been built in the late 1800's and offered the space and location they wanted.

The Old Rectory details the Ibbotson's acquisition and renovation of their dream house.  As one might expect, the house had significant flaws that had to be fixed; dampness and mold as well as antiquated wiring.  The couple wanted to not only modernize the house, but restore it to its original Georgian style.  They also wanted to restore the grounds to their former glory.

Julia is a woman who adores cooking, and each chapter details various traditional English dishes appropriate to the season in which the chapter is written.  The reader will learn how to make such dishes as the traditional English roast, lamb with mint jelly, lots of various fruit puddings, and other wonderful meals. 

As the couple worked on the house, they also became part of village life.  Soon they were involved in various village functions such as choirs, craft classes, a walking group and a group that went on outings.  They made new friends who shared their love of English culture and thought it worth fighting for. 

Ibbotson has written a charming account of how life can be changed as one moves into the later stages of one's life.  The renovation and research into the house's history are interesting, and the recipes are enticing.  American readers need to take extra care with details such as oven temperature and measurements and be sure they have correctly translated the measurements into their American equivalents.  This book is recommended for readers who enjoy cooking as well as those interested in history or how to enrich one's life after the work of raising children is over.

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