Not far from our house, a development of McMansions has begun construction, and some homes are finally available for walk-through. Being curious to see how the other half lives, my family and I went out over the weekend and walked around a couple.
No doubt about it, these houses do have lots of space. If you were mad at your relatives, you could pretty much avoid them for days at a time. In fact, your cars wouldn’t even have to talk to each other, because several of these places had two garages–just in case, I suppose, your Hummer gave your Mercedes-Benz bad vibes.
Unfortunately, there was one glaring design flaw. When I entered the first house, I was transfixed by the built-in bookshelves surrounding the fireplace and indulged in some fairly serious Bookcase Lust. As I was preparing to leave the house, however, I took a last lingering look at the shelves and realized what I hadn’t seen before: you couldn’t fit hardbacks on these shelves. Not even trade paperbacks. The only thing that would fit on them was small knickknacks and mass-market paperbacks.
Well, that was a deal-killer for me. Where would I put my Dickens? Where would I put my Plaidys? Where would I put my hard-to-find Robert Hale titles? And where would I put The Traitor’s Wife? What’s the point of spending $750,000 on a house if you can’t stretch out on the couch and stare admiringly at one’s own book on one’s own built-in bookshelves? Does that mean I’d have to take up reading Danielle Steele?
So, no McMansion for me, thank you very much, until I see one that caters to the wishes of the discerning reader. (And, of course, until I address the small matter of affording one.)
Anyway, yesterday I finished reading Jane Lane’s Bridge of Sighs (which wouldn’t fit on the McMansion’s bookshelves either). It’s about Mary Beatrice, second wife of James II. I was rather disappointed in it, especially when compared to the other Jane Lane novels I’ve read, the best of which have a dry wit and a deep sympathy for the main characters. There are a few good moments here, but I never felt that I knew Mary Beatrice or believed in the emotions that we were told she was feeling. I kept reading it because I knew little about the history of the time and was curious to find out what happened, but otherwise I doubt it would have held my interest.
Finally, I’ve signed up to do a posting for Marg and Kailana’s 2006 Advent Blog Tour. There’s been a lot of nice posts so far, and I’m looking forward to reading what comes next. Mine is scheduled for December 21, and will feature Christmas of 1484 with Richard III. (If you’re a diehard Ricardian without a sense of humor–not that you probably read this blog if you are–pass this one by.)