There is nothing quite as beautiful as an English country house in summer. And there has never been a summer quite like that Indian summer between the two world wars, a period of gentle decline in which the sun set slowly on the British Empire and the shadows lengthened on the lawns of a thousand stately homes. Real life in the country house during the 1920s and 1930s was not always so sunny. By turns opulent and ordinary, noble and vicious, its shadows were darker. In The Long Weekend, Adrian Tinniswood uncovers the truth about a world half-forgotten, draped in myth and hidden behind stiff upper lips and film-star smiles. Drawing on hundreds of memoirs, on unpublished letters and diaries, on the eye-witness testimonies of belted earls and unhappy heiresses and bullying butlers, The Long Weekend gives a voice to the people who inhabited this world.
In a definitive social history which combines anecdote and narrative with scholarship, it brings the stately homes of England to life, giving readers an insight into the guilt and the gingerbread, and showing how the image of the country house was carefully protected by its occupants above and below stairs, and how the reality was so much more interesting than the dream.
A look at what really went on behind the curtains of England's stately homes, by the acclaimed historian
"Provides rich detail from all corners, uncovering plenty of angst, but also much optimism." The Economist "Fantastically readable and endlessly fascinating book... Delicious, occasionally fantastical, revealing in ways that Downtown Abbey never was. It is as if Tinniswood is at the biggest, wildest, most luxuriantly decadent party ever thrown, and he knows everyone." -- Rachel Cooke Observer "Tinniswood and his publishers should be congratulated for issuing this elegant, encyclopedic and entertaining history... We are in the company of a confident and skilled historian who understands the mores of his era and wears his learning lightly... This s a handsomely illustrated pick'n'mix of mansions, manors, castles and palaces... Tinniswood expands our Sunday evening viewing with the kind of detail you can't invent... Deserves to be on every costume drama producer's bookshelf." -- Virginia Nicholson The Times "He has produced a luscious, summery book, full of amiable anecdotes and photographs of striking interiors, celebrating headstrong optimists who defied the defeatism of the times. The Long Weekend resembles a well-kept hothouse festooned with fruit ripe for the plucking." -- Richard Davenport-Hines Sunday Times "Masterpiece of social history" -- Roger Lewis Daily Mail
Adrian Tinniswood is the author of fourteen books of social and architectural history. A Senior Research Fellow at the University of Buckingham and a Visiting Fellow in Heritage and History at Bath Spa University, he has worked for and with the National Trust at local, regional and national level for more than thirty years. In 2013 he was awarded an OBE for services to heritage.