Friday, April 24, 2009

I Heart Hobbit Houses

My favorite parts of any book or movie are those which describe houses... or food. Which is probably why The Wind in the Willows is one of my favorite children's books, or The Lord of the Rings, or Peter Rabbit, or Anne of Green Gables... so many to choose from which offer literary delights to the senses.

I've been known to watch the beginning of The Return of the King just too view the inside of a Hobbit House again (as well as Whose Got Mail for that delightful vintage apartment of Meg Ryan's character).

I'm trying to find other books (they don't have to be kid's books) that have excellent descriptions of warm and cozy rooms or equally delicious descriptions of tea time, dinners, picnics... or food in general.

Any suggestions?

Picture: Hobbit House designed by architect Peter Archer


Anonymous said...

Brenda, I have a wonderful book to suggest. You'll probably have to find it on line or maybe the library. "Take Three Tenses: A Fugue in Time" by Rumer Godden. It was published in 1945 and is about a house in London and the family who have lived there for 100 years.

Friend Debra

Sue said...

Go here:

You WON'T be disappointed. It is one of my VERY favorite images from the Lord of the Rings trilolgy...Let me know what you think...

Quinne said...

Hi Brenda :) Do re-read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder - the descriptions of the foods and meal prep (and growing the food for that matter) are wonderful!

Love & hugs, Q

Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda! I am mostly a lurker, but read your blog daily. :-) And since I love books, had to comment.

Miss Read books do a lot of descriptions on homes etc. Really enjoy her writing. I also enjoy books by Rosamunde Pilcher.

I am looking forward to reading everyone's suggestions.

~Lori in PA

Rain said...

Grace Livingston Hill. Lots of food, very cozy descriptions. Making a house a home with very little money.

Linda N said...

How about the description of the meal Mrs. Beaver makes in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. She fries the fish in butter, drains the potatoes, adds more butter, then serves them hot with mugs of cold milk for the children and beer for Mr. Beaver. And when they're totally full she brings out hot tea and a sticky marmalade roll. It always makes my mouth water.

Linda N.

Meredith@MerchantShips said...

I second the Grace Livingston Hill recommendation. The plotlines are trite, but the homemaking descriptions are delicious.

the pleasures of homemaking said...

Yes, "Farmer Boy" has wonderful descriptions of the meals. I'm almost finished re-reading it.

I read "Winter Cottage" by Carol Ryrie Brink last month and really loved it. It's about a family in the depression who find a cottage and make it their own for the winter.

I'll be interested to see what people come up with. I like looking at the homes and gardens in movies too!


Vee said...

All of my suggestions have already been offered... Oh I do love the descriptions of the Beavers' home in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The Enchanted Barn is my favorite Grace Livingstone Hill for descriptions of homemaking. Love Rosamunde Pilcher's descriptions of food and home, too.

Dolly said...

Hi Brenda....
thank you for the kind words!
I am taking life at a much slower pace..... stopping to smell the roses you might say!

I too enjoy houses and reading about them but I can't think of any books to suggest at this moment!

Enjoy your weekend sweetpea!

Hugz & Blessings,

Sabine said...

'April Gold' by Grace Livingston Hill. A must-read! 'The Enchanted Barn' is very good, too.

I'm waiting for a 'Brambly Hedge' book by Jill Barklem, 'The Hidden Staircase' (used, from an eBay seller). The 'Brambly Hedge' series are children's books that some consider to be better than Beatrix Potter's books (hard to imagine for me, but we'll see). They are supposed to be similar in style to 'The Wind in the Willows', with charming illustrations.

Anonymous said...

I love Meg Ryan's apartment too! Watching movies or reading is so much more delicious when they show or tell of the background's homes. I love Grace Livingston Hill for a peak into old true values and times. Thanks Vee for the name of a good one for description...I haven't read this one but now will be looking for it. The 1945 version of State Fair with Jeanne Crain has a pretty home and the photography is very clear in the movie. I am so glad you brought all of this up and so many had good ideas to offer! :) Jody

Leila said...

Hi Brenda,

I agree with anonymous that Rumer Godden has great descriptions. I love China Court -- great story AND great house!

An author very much like Rumer Godden is Elizabeth Goudge. Her houses are always full of meaning and well described. The kitchen in Gentian Hill is the very best part of that book! You are always a better person after reading Goudge.

You can find these books at the library.

Nana Trish is Living the Dream said...

I loved Shell Seeker by Rosamunde Pilcher. It puts you in this delightful little cottage and the description of the food, house and gardens was wonderful.

Packrat said...

I love to look at pictures of old houses and rooms in magazines. I look at the rooms in the movies instead of watching the movie. I stop and dream about houses described in books.

My guilty pleasure is reading murder mysteries (the cozies, not the nasty violent ones) where the bad guy/gal is always caught. Several authors use food and/or houses as the common thread or theme of the books. I always choose these first.

Anonymous said...

"Brambley Hedge" -- lovely, lovely, little books! And you've probably read them, but the Jan Karon series about Father Tim has scrumptious food and home descriptions. Love your blog. Juli

Anonymous said...

Hello Brenda,
I read your blog almost daily and am superfragilisticexpealadociously encouraged by you and your writing. I just had to comment(never, ever, done it before). I agree about State Fair. We just watched it last night and I loved the bedroom, kitchen, and the trailer they took to the fair. Also, in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, I love the way Milly comes in and makes beauty out of chaos.
As far as reading goes, you might give the book Mandy by Julie Andrews (yes, Sound of Music fame)a try. Mandy is a orphan who "adopts" an abandoned house she discovers behind the orphanage.
Please keep up the wonderful encouraging work.

Marianna said...

I second Rosamunde Pilcher. Also Gladys Taber and, of course, Tasha Tudor. Jan Karon's Mitford series is another one for good descriptions of both food and place. The Elm Creek Quilts series by Jennifer Chiaverini (I think I spelled that right) is great for food descriptions. The Blossom Street books by Debbie Macomber.

I'm a big fan of domestic fiction too!

Marianna said...

Thought of another one...The Penderwicks by Jane Birdsall. This is a children's book, but wonderfully written. Oh and one more...The Gone Away Lake and Melendy books by Elizabeth Enright. I'm also fond of the dollhouse described in Big Susan. Finally, not your typical domestic scene, but the descriptions of the house in a tree from The Other Side of the Mountain are, I think, charming.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Hi Brenda,

Do you know the books by Della Thompson Lutes which were popular in the late 30s and early 40s? Country Kitchen is still in print. I also love Home Grown, Cousin William, Millbrook. Great descriptions of country life near Jackson, Michigan in the late 1800s. Susan Wittig Alberts books based on Beatrix Potter, which you can get in libraries now, are also charming once you get past the talking animals bit!


Judith said...

How about the Borrower's Books by Mary Norton. I love the description of their living spaces. It makes my imagination fly

Packrat said...

PS - To everyone - thanks for the reminders of old favorites I'd forgotten about. Wow

Niki RuralWritings said...

Brenda, Have you ever read any Gene Stratton Porter? Lovely descriptions in Girl of the Limberlost and The Beekeeper... I think you'd enjoy them...

Anonymous said...

I think the "Redwall" series of books by Brian Jacques would be ones that you would enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Oh yes! I agree..the Jan Karon Midford series is full of descriptive writing. The people, the homes, the rooms...all done so easily you never get bored for even a paragraph! :) You feel you live in the town and know all its people intimately...and you WANT to live there.... I wish she would do more.... sign.... Jody

Anonymous said...

yes me too!!! I second on Della Lutes (Cousin William is precious!) and Grace Livingston Hill books will actually insprire me to get up and do some homemaking! Think I'll make a list of these good food and home story books.

Katie said...

Hi Brenda,
I've been reading quietly for awhile now, and "visiting" you is such a blessing to me.

I was delighted to read this post, and then happy when I realized that I might be able to offer you a nice "tidbit" in return for the pleasure your blog brings me! :)

My favorite bit of domestic fiction is "Home for the Day" by Rosamunde Pilcher (it's a short story in The Blue Bedroom).

I haven't been able to think of a movie example that rivals Meg Ryan's apartment in "Mail" (that would be hard! :)), but I do seem to remember that the 1994 version of "Little Women" (with Winona Ryder) had a lovely backdrop of domesticity all through the movie. And, the March family was certainly keeping home on a budget!

There's another homekeeping book that I really enjoy, but it's not fiction -- "Creating a SenseSational Home" by Terry Willits. Her approach is Christ-centered, but focuses on lots of "practical" things... like scented candles, fresh linens, whistling teapots, etc. Her descriptions sound like a place I'd like to live!


Sherry said...

The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister.

~~Deby said...

I love Grace Livingston Hills, the BEST....
btw..I love driving at night, or should I say when my husband drives at night and someone has their drapes or curtains open and you get a glimpse into their you do that?

Heather said...

I love the house in the video 'The Christmas Box' is fabulous and the message of the movie is excellent too - I just love it when the children ask for it again and again - I drool over the wood paneling and the cozy old attic stuffed with treasures!

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for a while but have never commented before.

I wanted to also agree that the Grace Livingston Hill books have wonderful descriptions of home. I especially like The Honor Girl. I read it when I feel like the house is in chaos and am always insprired to create loveliness out of the mess like she does in the book.


Jacqueline said...

I have always loved that quaint apartment on "You've Got Mail" as well. Many of the other books described also contain some of my favorite "home" scenes, but I love the first book in the Boxcar Children series where the children make such a lovely home in their abandoned railway car and creatively live life with so little.

Anonymous said...

Hello again! I am so enjoying reading everyone's suggestions. Can't wait to go to the library!

I very much agree with Katie, that "Home for the Day" is my favorite story of Rosamunde Pilcher. It is one I read over and over again.

I also thought of a few more to add to your list:

"All of a Kind Family" by Sydney Taylor (children's)

"Four Story Mistake" & "The Saturdays" by Elizabeth Enright (also children's)

"The Plums Hang High" by Gertrude E. Finney (I love this one and read it over and over again, but have never found anything else by this author. Would love to hear if anyone else knows of her.)

I will go back to lurking now. :-) Thanks, Brenda, for a great book discussion!

Lori in PA

lynda said...

I need a hobbit house for a get away- it is beautiful.
I love to look at books about unusual houses.


Anonymous said...

Two of my favorite books along this line are Papa's Wife and The Home Has a Heart, both by Thyra Ferre Bjorn. The best mother in the world here. It pierces my heart. Thanks for starting the discussion.


Islandsparrow said...

This is one of my favourite post topics - I recommend The Country Child by Alison Uttley. It is brimming with homey descriptions and marvellous nature scenes.

Anonymous said...


Miss Happiness and Miss Flower (Elisabeth is now reading it and enjoying it, once she got past the thing where the dolls talked...she reasoned to herself that she reads lots of books where the animals talk.....anyway, lovely description of Japanese interiors and I think there's something about tea,'s been a long time!!)

Swiss Family Robinson

A Bear Called Paddington....the scene on Paddington Station with the bun and the tea had me drooling!! And of course all of the Paddington stories make some mention of cake or toast and marmalade sandwiches!! And Elevenses!!!

Someone had mentioned mysteries, and I once read a book called "Dying for Chocolate" that actually had the recipes printed out on pages within the book....I even copied some of them out!! Mouth-watering food descriptions...I just can't remember if there was any inappropriate content or not.

First We Have Coffee and Then We Talk...can you remember the author's name? you gave me the book, it's on my shelf downstairs...not fiction, of course, but still reads more like fiction than not.

oh, right, films...

Babette's Feast...can't believe that wasn't on there!!! :) and I love the "homie-ness" of the new Pride and Prejudice, with the girls bouncing around and laughing and everything looks a little worn and old. The new "Sense and Sensibility" has the loveliest little seaside cottage in it, too.

:) Stephanie

Jen said...

Dear Sally Clarkson lead me to your wonderful blog! I am loving it already!
One book I love is "Five Little Peppers and How They Grew" by Margaret Sidney...the beautiful scenes in their little brown house are very dear. The kiddos didn't want me to read the last chapter because they didn't want it to end. And I just found out the author wrote sequels which is very exciting!
It is so neat to see that others share my love of "movie homes"...I thought I was the only one!
I also love Meg Ryan's home in Sleepless in Seattle....very homey.
Also North and South (BBC) I love how the homes seem almost like little lights in that city of industry.
If I can think of any others I will post them...Thank you so much for your blog
Jennifer Churchill

Anonymous said...

Before you go to compiling, Brenda, I've been meaning to add a suggestion. D.E. Stevenson books. Perhaps your library has gotten rid of them, like mine has, and more's the pity. D.E. is a descendent of Robert Lewis and writes WW II era. And they are treasures when you find them on your thrifting forays. One idea in particular that I found curious. I don't remember which book, but the main character was renting a "flat" in which every item was furnished. It became a cause for concern when a drinking glass (I think it was) was broken. In our time of "stuff" this continues to amaze me.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I wish I knew who "anonymous" is who mentioned D.E. Stevenson, my favorite author. In fact a list discussing her work began on yahoo groups eleven years ago and is still going strong. We met for a tenth anniversary "gathering" in Boston where Boston University houses a great collection of material by and about her (correspondence, old photographs, and much else). Next summer we are meeting in Edinburgh, and also traveling to Moffat, her home of many years. R.L. Stevenson was her father's first cousin and Lord Robert of Kandahar was a cousin of her mothers.Other books which have a special place in my heart are Mrs. Appleyard and I by Louise Andrews Kent, and some of Georgette Heyer's - A Civil Contract and Frederica are probably my favorites.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

And for those who like Who's Got Mail, the original of this The Shop Around the Corner from the 40s is wonderful. I've lived in Budapest and find it very authentic for the time period. Also In the Good Old Summertime is another remake of this very popular story.

Anonymous said...

This might be too late Brenda but I wanted to add these 4 movies in case anyone sees this. The first is The Human Comedy 1943 with Micky Rooney and many others. Slice of small town America during WW2. You'll never forget it. You get to know about everyone in town. The book the Human comedy which the movie was taken from is by William Saroyan. The second is Our Vines Have Tender Grapes 1945. Edward G. Robinson and Agnes Moorhead are parents and Margaret O'Brian is the daughter. Subject small town rural life. The 3rd How Green Was My Valley 1941. Not America but Wales but the small town values of God, Country and family are still there like all 4 of these movies. The 4th is Its A Big County 1951. Eight episodes of American life with Ethel Barrymore, Gary Cooper and many many others. All of these movies show occassionally on TCM. All show a good clear view of homes and shops and such of their times. Even though all are black and white they are Very Much worth seeing. I know there are more but wanted to sneak these in.....Jody

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

It's very late, but I wanted to add a DEScription (as some of her fans call description in the books of D.E. Stevenson) from the end of Mrs. Tim Carries On:

"The house is not very large, it is old and comfortable and a trifle
shabby.... The morning room is
the cosiest room imaginable. Brown is the predominant colour here; the carpet is beige and brown, the heavy curtains are brown and blue, the deep leather chairs shine like horse chestnuts. The bow
window has a wide window seat upon which one can sit and look down the sloping garden and over the wide fields and trees. There are books on the shelves and magazines of the side table and baskets
for the spaniel, in which they are supposed to lie, preferring the hearthrug, where they can be near the feet of their gods and the warmth of their gods' fire. It is a peaceful room, a friendly room."

And also, I wanted to mention Grace S. Richardson who was known for her domestic description. Some of my favorites of her books are Cherry Acres and Under A Country Sky........

Anonymous said...

I reread your hobbit home post and the cryteria you were looking for in movies about the dinners etc. Yes I do remember such scenes in each of the 4 movies I mentioned in case you were wondering if these type of scenes were in them. I forgot that was one thing you were asking about. Jody

Anonymous said...

I have always loved Grace Livingston Hill's books and Emily Loring's books for those reasons. I read them when I was a teen. I think I am going to revisit them. I love warm and cozy books.
I am reading "All of a Kind Family" now.