My Life in Houses by Margaret Forster – review

My life in housesHere’s something a bit different and a nice idea. Margaret Forster begins her new book My Life In Houses  by revealing that she was born in a new council house in Carlisle in 1938 and then proceeds to document every house she has lived in over the past seventy years!

Margaret Forster is of course a really prolific author with a career that includes much fiction (Georgy Girl, Diary of an Ordinary Woman) Isa and May,  to acclaimed biographies (of Daphne Du Maurier, Elizabeth Barrett Browning) and non-fiction. She is married to Hunter Davies.

This is the beginning of her odyssey and using these personal examples she starts to show what houses actually mean to us. This indicates the two main strands of the book, an autobiography of her life from the viewpoint of the houses she has lived in but also a search for how these modern shelters influence our lives and reflect the society of the day for good or ill.

Forster as ever writes with consummate skill and feeling but for me the real highlight here in the interesting premise which she has chosen as her topic. Never more so than in this day and age is an Englishman’s home his castle. Forster’s book explores this and more.