A friend asked if she could have this book before I even had a chance to read it. She had flipped quickly through the recipes and decided that it was a keeper. And now that I have read it, I wholeheartedly agree with her. Not only has Julia Ibbotson brought back memories of the food my mother used to make, but she has provided a quick glimpse into how renovations are done, British-style, on her historic home on the English moors.
The author gives a nod to the popular, well-known books by newly single women with bottomless bank accounts who undertake grand home restorations in foreign countries. She also mentions the encouragement she was given to write something similar but based in England, thanks in part to the overseas popularity of British television shows. I feel the advice was good and the acknowledgment necessary. Her short book is similar to the others. There seems to be a lot of money available as hers is not the life of most ordinary citizens, but it is fairly grounded. “Husband” is the man this professional woman counts on, and together they work on making a home from a piece of history, presenting enough village life information to appease any Brit-o-phile. If anything, the author could have expanded much more on the content but instead chose to keep her book to the point and fast-paced. Eight quick chapters each conclude with a selection of simple and familiar Victorian, frugal wartime, and modern staple recipes such as Victorian Brown Betty, Milk Rice Pudding and, of course, Cream Tea Scones.
Author Julia Ibbotson’s research on their former rectory home built in about 1860 and the recipes she has included are all quite interesting. The surprises and accomplishments that accompany the home renovation elicit hurrahs, and the light touches on their personal lives make this a non-intrusive, comfortable book to read. My friend is going to have to buy her own copy of “The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen” as I am definitely keeping this one for myself.
The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country Kitchen
Reviewed by Deb Shunamon for Reader Views (4/12)