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Wow this is a great read. Its personal, insightful and educational. Not to mention it is truly a love story of a family, marriage and home. If you have read any of Erica’s previous books (and you should!) you know that her ability to transport the reader to the place (smells, sights and surroundings), and emotions of the characters is magical. House Lessons does not disappoint, Erica’s own personal thoughts and emotions are revealed, and the house becomes as much of a character with its own feelings and emotions. The book takes you on the family journey of the why and how they chose the house and the impact the renovation had on the people involved, but also provides great research and information on structures, architecture, psychology and more. If you have ever renovated, built or purchased a house or looking to do so this book articulates the emotional journey that most of us have felt but are unable to communicate.
I LOVED this book. The author beautifully weaves the story of her family's life and the changes that come with time, age and wisdom with the story of their rescue of this beloved house. The house seems to draw the author and her family in immediately, despite the enormous challenges they will face in taking it on. She describes the house seeming to "breathe" when 7+ tons of garbage are removed from it, and it seems to communicate in ways with the author and her family and even give gifts! Loved the life given to this house, both through the author's writing, and through the actual repair and rejuvenation of the structure itself. The house's "soul" is able to shine and the family and the house seem a perfect match. Having felt this type of draw to a house before, I related to this book so very much. I am also a sucker for memoirs like this (loved David Giffels' book about his remodel too), and this one is so well written. Highly recommend.
I tried on three occasions to read this book. I loved the other two books I read by this author and hated to see them end. But this book, House Lessons, stopped me cold after about 14% into the Kindle book. I usually finish a book even if it's not particularly interesting to me. But this one, I could not do it. And I had paid for this download. I just felt I could order something else with the money I spent on this book. So sorry, but the story dragged along. There was all this info that just did little to move the story along with Latin words, etc. It was a confusing shift from one child to a grown woman (assuming it was the child) and her husband's family. Then there was a Victorian house falling down in disrepair and a couple buying it to fix up. It just lost me along the way. I know this author intended a better reception to this book and I wish I could give it.
Erica Bauermeister is a wordsmith, crafting each phrase in this book to perfection. This isn't just a story about saving a classic old home from destruction, it is about a couple intent on following their youthful dreams while listening to the needs of their family, making adjustments, commitments, promises and giving each other the voice and space they needed to make those dreams come true. This house took a family to raise it from ruin, it took creativity and the ability to truly observe, trust and listen to others and to your instincts and in the end became a family home rich with memories and more to come. It will make you laugh out loud at times, or groan with dismay and in the end close the last page wishing there was more and glad you shared the experience.
I have read and enjoyed Erica Bauermeister's books, but this one really struck a chord. Perhaps it is because I lived in Port Townsend for six years and have fond memories of its quirkiness (I do not know the author). I also have a renovation story of my own about the house we lived in while there. She captures beautifully the essence of Port Townsend, with its free-roaming deer and a strong sense of the mysterious at work.
Mostly, though, this is a deeply personal book. We see the author go through her own transformation as the house does, too. It reminds us that when we pay attention to our deep inner longings, we find a way to make them happen -- even if it takes a long time to get there. Sometimes the pace at which our dreams come to fruition is maddeningly slow, but each step of the journey is worthwhile. Truly a joy to read this book!
I liked the concept of the book but the writing tended to drag. I wish she had included photos of before and after of the renovations instead of the simple black and white drawings. Her descriptions of the work being done was sometimes unclear so it was difficult to picture exactly what was happening in the house. And it is too bad that people don't preserve the house when they are able but remove things, like the back staircase, just because it works better for them. If you buy an old house, then keeping walls where they were and windows they same size, are things that should be done to preserve its history. If you are not going to do that, then allow someone else to buy it who will preserve it and live with it as it was intended in the first place. She seems to be going through struggles that she thinks she is the only person in the world to experience such things. More people experience the same things--they just accept them, deal with them, and move on. Not everything is a traumatic experience and they do not have to be made larger and more difficult than what they are.
House lessons: yes, every house I’ve owned teaches me something about building materials, priorities, deal breakers, lighting, interior traffic flow, exterior living spaces, end value versus time, effort and expense. Life in those homes reflected relationships, good, bad and otherwise. Bauermeister’s book is a thoughtful and articulate melding of structural and philosophical perspectives one should consider, whether going through an actual home restoration project, or not.
If you've ever wanted to re-imagine an old home, like the purple, Victorian, gingerbread house at the east end of the Ross Island bridge in Portland, this book is for you. Poetic like a great novel, we are introduced to the family trials , heartbreak, and and warmth as they all work together to "Imagine" their new home. Loved it.
I have read several books by the author and always look forward to her books. However, this is not a fiction book but basically a record of her purchase and renovation of an old house in Washington (state). It is still very interesting. Having renovated an old house (older than the one she records), I understood all the trials that she was going through. Recommended for anyone who likes Erica's other writings, or for those interested in some of the realities of renovating an old house.