24 APRIL 1936, Page 42


By Dorothy Pym

From its title, House as Friends (Cape, 10s. 6d.), one imagines that this is a book on how to make your house a home. It is, as a matter of fact, an-account of five houses in which the author has lived. It might almost be called extracts from an autobiography. Readers of Miss Pym's earlier book, Battersea Rise, will recall that she has a special feeling for houses, and they will find here the same skilful evocation of atmosphere. First there are reminiscences of childhood at Picts' Barrow, a mid-Victorian yellow brick country house of which Miss Pym writes : " I can even get satisfaction in the memory of its lack of beauty." This section is rather common- place. We have read so often of little girls being taken to church by grins nurses with hearts of gold. Miss Pym's Amanda, though no doubt an actual person, is depressingly unoriginal. Madame, whose boarding house in Versailles is the subject of the next chapter, is also a stock type. The next pictures, of a Bedfordshire country house called Harrold Hall and a Queen Anne house in Kensington, which the author says could only be appreciated by an American, have the easy charm of an expensive calendar. " . . . all my recollections, happy and sad, pleasant and unpleasant, are garlanded with a wreath of flowers." Many people will revel in the fragrance of Miss Pym's memories. Others will find the garlands rather tiresome.