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Thrumpton Hall: A Memoir of Life in My…
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Thrumpton Hall: A Memoir of Life in My Father's House (2007)

by Miranda Seymour

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Five stars may seem excessive for what is certainly a minor work. But there are many different scales for measuring merit and I have ranked 'Elegy for an Obsessive Love' at five stars because It is compelling, illuminating and utterly individual in its delineation of the Seymour family. ( )
  Pauntley | May 11, 2015 |
I read this after reading some fairly negative reviews, so I was pleased to enjoy it. Seymour's memoir stresses the "father" of her subtitle more than the "house," though the house plays a great role in both their lives. While there are some passages evoking the house directly through Seymour's eyes, her perceptions, as well as the reader's, are heavily filtered through her father's. Some reviewers have summed the book up as, essentially, "Boo hoo, I'm rich but I hate my father!" This is an extremely superficial reading of a much more complex narrative. Seymour uses Catullus's pithy "I love and I hate" (odi et amo) throughout to structure her account of many facets of her relationship with her father: Both extremes of her sentiment toward him, the poles of her certainty and doubt, her own negative self-regard, and other intertwined aspects of this relationship. Seymour's mother functions as a corrective narrator (though one presumes not always an accurate one), consistently serving up the refrain that Seymour is misunderstanding, or nursing old grievances, or airing the dirty linens. This device works well to allow Seymour to demonstrate how she questions her own interpretations and struggles to understand the intersecting and diverging truths of her own and her mother's experiences of their family history. This includes their reluctance to speak about whether her father had affairs with young men.

As to her father himself, I do wonder whether he had a temporal lobe disorder (which might account for his pedantry, his social difficulties, his often humorless and emotionally wounded interactions, the heightened importance and meaning with which he imbues some aspects of the world, and his obsessiveness). Seymour does not describe her father throwing tantrums as a child, but does highlight his irritability and great lability and anger as an adult; this description makes me wonder whether the concussion he suffered during his military service caused a closed-head brain injury that exacerbated his earlier difficulties. Just a speculation based on Seymour's descriptions.

For two additional accounts by children of parents passionately emotionally invested in an old house (as well as the financial and legal tangles of ownership and inheritance) intertwined with narratives about homosexuality and family secrets, read Nigel Nicholson's [book: Portrait of a Marriage] on his parents, Harold Nicholson and Vita Sackville-West, and Alison Bechdel's graphic novel, [book: Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic].

( )
  OshoOsho | Mar 30, 2013 |
Interesting but unfortunately biased account of her childhood and fault-finding father. ( )
  pollyfrontier | Feb 11, 2011 |
Poor little rich girl with eccentric English family. Comes from English aristocracy on both sides, daddy has a huge manor home, decides he likes younger boys later in life. ( )
  coolmama | Jan 13, 2009 |
A brilliantly told memoir of Miranda Seymour's always eccentric and often cruel father who loved his beautiful Jabobean home more than his wife or family. It is a very sad yet funny portrait of a very snobbish, selfish man. ( )
  mumoftheanimals | Jun 15, 2008 |
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To my beloved husband, Ted Lynch
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"Three obituaries!" a fierce old relation wrote after my father died.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Unfortunately biased account of her childhood and fault-finding father.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061466565, Hardcover)

Dear Thrumpton, how I miss you tonight, wrote twenty-one-year-old George Seymour in 1944. But the object of his affection was not a young woman but a house—ownership of which was then a distant dream. But he did eventually acquire Thrumpton, a beautiful country house in Nottinghamshire, and it was in this idyllic home that Miranda Seymour was raised. Her upbringing was far from idyllic, however, as life revolved around her father's capriciousness. The house took priority and everything else was secondary, even his wife. Until, that is, the day when George Seymour, already in his golden years, took to wearing black leather and riding powerful motorbikes around the countryside in the company of a young male friend. Had he taken leave of his senses? Or had he finally found them? And how did this sea change affect his wife and daughter?

Both biography and family memoir, this sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart-wrenching story—told in a voice as unforgettable as it is moving—is a riveting and ultimately shocking portrait of desire and the devastating consequences of misplaced love.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:10:42 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Both biography and family memoir, this sometimes hilarious, sometimes heart-wrenching story told in a voice as unforgettable as it is moving is a riveting and ultimately shocking portrait of desire and the devastating consequences of misplaced love."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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