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China Court: The Hours of a Country House (1960)

de Rumer Godden

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4671453,393 (3.95)80
Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. HTML:

A New York Times??bestselling novel of the lives, loves, and foibles of five generations of a British family occupying a manor house in Wales.

For nearly one hundred and fifty years the Quin family has lived at China Court, their magnificent estate in the Welsh countryside. The land, gardens, and breathtaking home have been maintained, cherished, and ultimately passed along??from Eustace and Adza in the early nineteenth century to village-girl-turned-lady-of-the-manor Ripsie Quin, her children, and her granddaughter, Tracy, in the twentieth.

Brilliantly intermingling the past and the present, China Court is a sweeping family saga that weaves back and forth through time. The story begins at the end, in 1960, with the death of the indomitable Ripsie, whose dream of a life at the grand estate was realized through her marriage to the steadfast Quin brother who loved her??though he wasn't the one she had always loved.

With thrilling literary leaps across the decades, the story of a British dynasty is told in enthralling detail. It is a chronicle of wives and husbands; of mothers, sons, and daughters; of those who could never stray far from the lush grounds of China Court and the outcasts and outsiders who would never truly belong.

Bearing comparison to One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, Rumer Godden's novel relates the history of a family with sensitivity, wit, compassion, and a compelling touch of magical realism. A family's loves, pains, triumphs, and scandals are laid bare, forming an intricate tapestry of heart-wrenching humanity, in a remarkable work of fiction from one of the most acclaimed British novelists of the twentieth centur
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Mostrando 1-5 de 15 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
Did you know you can ruin a perfectly lovely, enjoyable book in the last 10 pages??? I found out you can.

[China Court] is the story of five generations of a family living in southwestern England. Their family home is named China Court because of the money their family made in trade with China in the 1800s. When Mrs. Quin, a family matriarch from the third generation, passes away, the family story begins to be explored. Adza and Eustace have eight children. "The brood" gives way to one son, his Irish wife and their children, one of who marries Ripsie (Mrs. Quin). Tracy, part of the fifth generation, returns for her grandmother's funeral. The writing swirls around these generations - Godden doesn't take the easy way out and write a dual (or quintuple!) timeline. Instead, stories give way to other stories up and down the timeline. There are enough cues to keep the reader pretty well-oriented. I was highly impressed by this. So much fun to read a novel with interesting characters and a masterfully managed plot and timeline.

And then, the end . . .
Terrible, really terrible. There's a strange stipulation in Mrs. Quin's will about Tracy marrying the man (Peter) who has been working a farm on China Court's land. At first it seems that Godden is going to somehow manage this into working in a somewhat acceptable manner. But then there is an out of place, violent, scene between Tracy and Peter that ends the book with a total acceptance of the violence - I guess as passion? I didn't get it. I was floored and upset.

This was so disappointing after I absolutely loved [In This House of Brede] and [The Greengage Summer]. Sad. ( )
1 vote japaul22 | Apr 12, 2024 |
four generations, mostly through women of the family
  ritaer | Aug 24, 2021 |
Sono figlia unica e l'unica in casa che leggesse libri era mia madre; più che "prestato" questo libro è ereditato perché lei non c'è più da quasi 30 anni e questo libro è in casa da sempre, per lo meno da che esiste il Club degli Editori.

È una bella storia, organizzata come un breviario con i capitoli che prendono il titolo dalla liturgia delle ore. Siamo nel 1960 e, alla morte di una vecchia signora nella sua vecchia, scomoda e quasi cadente grande casa in Cornovaglia, con l'arrivo dei parenti per la lettura del testamento, si dipana la storia di cinque generazioni di quella famiglia.
Un libro pieno di amore per la casa e per le cose, preziose o meno, tramandate immutabili attraverso le generazioni, ricche di ricordi e segreti.
  ShanaPat | Jul 6, 2020 |
No rating/did not finish.

I couldn't even give this my "50 page" test. China Court is written in the stream-of-consciousness style that I dislike the most: the author believes it's artistic and literary to throw characters and sentences and images randomly on the page, with no introduction, chronology, or context; and it is my job to figure out what the hell is going on.

I'm very disappointed because if I was able to locate the story, it seems like something I would have enjoyed.
  AngeH | Jan 2, 2020 |
This book tells the story of the days immediately before and after the death of a Cornish matriarch, who knows that, given the chance, her children would sell her beloved home.

That alone would have made me pick up the book, because I love the author, and because I love that this story is set in china clay country; a part of Cornwall that I have rarely read about in fiction, though it is an important part of the county’s history and heritage.

The narrative moves back in time to tell stories of previous generations who lived there, not in the way of most novels that have stories set in different points in time, but in a way that feels completely natural and right. Sometimes a thought, a sound, a sight can spark a memory can stir a memory; sometimes of just a moment of time and sometimes of a whole story of people, places and incidents long past.

That is exactly the way this book works. Rumer Godden did this same thing in an earlier work, A Fugue in Time, and in this book she works with more characters, more history, and – I think – rather more refinement.

I was captivated with the story of the elderly matriarch, who was cared for by a lady not a great deal younger who had been her companion; by the story of a granddaughter she called to her side, who had loved the house as a child but had not been there for many years, as when her mother was widowed she had decided to return to her native America, and pick up the threads of her career as an actress; and by the story that played out when daughters returned, with husbands in tow, to look over what they thought was their rightful inheritance.

That story became so real to me, and so did many stories from the past. I’m thinking of Eustace and Adza, who bought the house and established the dynasty. I’m thinking of Lady Patrick, the daughter of a wealthy and aristocratic family who eloped with the son of the house and struggled with her changed circumstances, her faithless husband and two young sons. At first I couldn’t warm to her, but as I learned more of her story I came to empathise with her. And I am thinking of the wonderful Eliza, who seemed to be cast as the spinster daughter, and who overcame her anger about her situation to set the course of her own life, by insisting that her brother formalised her position as housekeeper and by pursuing her own interests – especially the books that she loved dearly – when her time was her own.

It felt quite natural to move between all of those different stories. When I bought my book I had made sure that I had a family tree to refer to, but I didn’t need it for very long at all’ such was the skill of the author at bringing the house and its occupants to life.

She wrote so beautifully, she picked up exactly the right details, and it really did seem that she had walked through that house, unseen, among all of those different generations; understanding the pull of – the importance of – China Court, as a home and for its own sake.

There was such skill in construction of the story and in the telling of the tale. The present was written in the past tense and the past was written in the present tense, which might sound odd but it was wonderfully effective; and I loved the way the two could switch, sometimes even in the same sentence, feeling completely natural and right.

One character had a story in the present and the past. Ripsie was a child from the village and she became the constant companion of Lady Patrick’s two sons, Borowis and John Henry, while they played outside but as they grew up she found that she was often excluded from their world. Because she had fallen in loved with Borowis, who was brave and spirited, she clung on. When she finally realised that he didn’t love her and that he didn’t even see her as someone who had a place in his world, the steady and sensible John Henry was there to catch her before she fell. They married, and when Ripsie became the lady of the manor she slipped into the role so easily that she could have been born to it.

I’m reluctant to pick a favourite from so many wonderful characters and stories, but I think I have to say that I loved Ripsie and her story the best of all; both for her own sake and for what it said about the best and worst of society and of human nature.

The antique Book of Hours that she treasured and kept with her always provided headings for each chapter; a lovely reminder of the spirituality that is threaded through so many of Rumer Godden’s books, a lovely thing in its own right, and as I came to the end of the book I realised that it was also an integral part of the story.

I also realised that the author had chosen the pieces of the history of the family and the history of the house that she would share carefully and cleverly; to illuminate the past, and to show how the past can shape the present and the future.

I did miss the other pieces of history that weren’t shared; and though I understand that not everything could be told, the characters I met and the stories that I learned are so alive in my mind that want to know and understand more.

My only other disappointment was the ending. The reading of the will, the fallout from that, the discoveries that were made, were all wonderful; but there was just one thing that I couldn’t quite believe, the resolution of that was rushed, and the very final scene was unsettling and has not dated well.

There were so many more things that I loved, and those are the things that have stayed with me since I put the book down. ( )
1 vote BeyondEdenRock | Jul 16, 2019 |
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Godden, Rumerautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Salter, GeorgeDesigner da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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Fiction. Literature. Historical Fiction. HTML:

A New York Times??bestselling novel of the lives, loves, and foibles of five generations of a British family occupying a manor house in Wales.

For nearly one hundred and fifty years the Quin family has lived at China Court, their magnificent estate in the Welsh countryside. The land, gardens, and breathtaking home have been maintained, cherished, and ultimately passed along??from Eustace and Adza in the early nineteenth century to village-girl-turned-lady-of-the-manor Ripsie Quin, her children, and her granddaughter, Tracy, in the twentieth.

Brilliantly intermingling the past and the present, China Court is a sweeping family saga that weaves back and forth through time. The story begins at the end, in 1960, with the death of the indomitable Ripsie, whose dream of a life at the grand estate was realized through her marriage to the steadfast Quin brother who loved her??though he wasn't the one she had always loved.

With thrilling literary leaps across the decades, the story of a British dynasty is told in enthralling detail. It is a chronicle of wives and husbands; of mothers, sons, and daughters; of those who could never stray far from the lush grounds of China Court and the outcasts and outsiders who would never truly belong.

Bearing comparison to One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, Rumer Godden's novel relates the history of a family with sensitivity, wit, compassion, and a compelling touch of magical realism. A family's loves, pains, triumphs, and scandals are laid bare, forming an intricate tapestry of heart-wrenching humanity, in a remarkable work of fiction from one of the most acclaimed British novelists of the twentieth centur

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