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The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home

by

The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In this intimate and poignant history of a sprawling century-old summer house on Cape Cod, George Howe Colt reveals not just one family's fascinating story but a vanishing way of life. Faced with the sale of the treasured house where he had spent forty-two summers, Colt returned for one last August with his wife and young children. The Big House, the author's loving tribute to his one-of-a-kind family home, interweaves glimpses of that elegiac final visit with memories of earlier summers spent at the house and of the equally idiosyncratic people who lived there over the course of five generations.

Built by Colt's great-grandfather one hundred years ago on a deserted Cape Cod peninsula, the house is a local landmark (neighboring children know it as the Ghost House): a four-story, eleven-bedroom jumble of gables, bays, sloped roofs, and dormers. The emotional home of the Colt family, the Big House has watched over five weddings, four divorces, and three deaths, along with countless anniversaries, birthday parties, nervous breakdowns, and love affairs. Beaten by wind and rain, insulated by seaweed, it is both romantic and run-down, a symbol of the faded glory of the Boston Brahmin aristocracy.

With a mixture of amusement and affection, Colt traces the rise and fall of this tragicomic social class while memorably capturing the essence of summer's ephemeral pleasures: sailing, tennis, fishing, rainy-day reading. Time seems to stand still in a summer house, and for the Colts the Big House always seemed an unchanging place in a changing world. But summer draws to a close, and the family must eventually say good-bye.

Elegant and evocative, The Big House is both magical and sad, a gift to anyone who holds cherished memories of summer.

Review:

"Colt...is adept at exposing the dark underbelly of WASP restraint, recording the mental illness, alcoholism and despair that have plagued his family....This love letter to the past is a quiet delight." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"In a touching, deeply felt memoir...Colt goes beyond his own wistful longing, rendering keen observations of a lifestyle borne of privilege, perpetuated by tradition, and celebrated through elegance." Booklist

Review:

"[T]he wonder of this book is that the reader comes slowly, deeply, to comprehend the allure of a family world set staunchly against time, and the pathos of the author's struggle to let go of that world." The New York Times

Review:

"Colt's account, like the house that lies at its center, is full of surprises and contains more than seems humanly possible: a family memoir, a brief history of the Cape, an investigation of nostalgia, a catalogue of local fauna, a study of class, and a meditation on the privileges and burdens of the past." New Yorker

Review:

"The Big House brings engagingly and memorably to life the house and the people who inhabited it." Washington Post

Review:

"Well researched and written with a meditative grace, Colt's book is obviously a labor of love. The only complaint is that, like a warm, breezy summer on the Cape, it ends far too quickly." Library Journal

Synopsis:

A compelling saga of redemption and renewal from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Anthony Shadid tells the story of rebuilding his family's ancestral home in Lebanon amid political strife, and his eventual understanding of the emotions behind the turbulence in the Middle East.

Synopsis:

“Evocative and beautifully written, House of Stone . . . should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the agonies and hopes of the Middle East.” — Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of Crossing Mandelbaum Gate

“In rebuilding his family home in southern Lebanon, Shadid commits an extraordinarily generous act of restoration for his wounded land, and for us all.” — Annia Ciezadlo, author of Day of Honey

In spring 2011, Anthony Shadid was one of four New York Times reporters captured in Libya, cuffed and beaten, as that country was seized by revolution. When he was freed, he went home. Not to Boston or Beirut—where he lives— or to Oklahoma City, where his Lebanese-American family had settled and where he was raised. Instead, he returned to his great-grandfathers estate, a house that, over three years earlier, Shadid had begun to rebuild.

House of Stone is the story of a battle-scarred home and a war correspondents jostled spirit, and of how reconstructing the one came to fortify the other. In this poignant and resonant memoir, the author of the award-winning Night Draws Near creates a mosaic of past and present, tracing the houses renewal alongside his familys flight from Lebanon and resettlement in America. In the process, Shadid memorializes a lost world, documents the shifting Middle East, and provides profound insights into this volatile landscape. House of Stone is an unforgettable meditation on war, exile, rebirth, and the universal yearning for home.

Synopsis:

In this intimate and poignant history of a sprawling century-old summer house on Cape Cod, George Howe Colt reveals not just one family's fascinating story but a vanishing way of life. Faced with the sale of the treasured house where he had spent forty-two summers, Colt returned for one last August with his wife and young children. The Big House, the author's loving tribute to his one-of-a-kind family home, interweaves glimpses of that elegiac final visit with memories of earlier summers spent at the house and of the equally idiosyncratic people who lived there over the course of five generations.

Built by Colt's great-grandfather one hundred years ago on a deserted Cape Cod peninsula, the house is a local landmark (neighboring children know it as the Ghost House): a four-story, eleven-bedroom jumble of gables, bays, sloped roofs, and dormers. The emotional home of the Colt family, the Big House has watched over five weddings, four divorces, and three deaths, along with countless anniversaries, birthday parties, nervous breakdowns, and love affairs. Beaten by wind and rain, insulated by seaweed, it is both romantic and run-down, a symbol of the faded glory of the Boston Brahmin aristocracy.

With a mixture of amusement and affection, Colt traces the rise and fall of this tragicomic social class while memorably capturing the essence of summer's ephemeral pleasures: sailing, tennis, fishing, rainy-day reading. Time seems to stand still in a summer house, and for the Colts the Big House always seemed an unchanging place in a changing world. But summer draws to a close, and the family must eventually say good-bye.

Elegant and evocative, The Big House is both magical and sad, a gift to anyone who holds cherished memories of summer.

About the Author

ANTHONY SHADID (1968-2012), author of Night Draws Near, was an unparalleled chronicler of the human stories behind the news. He gained attention and awards, including the Pulitzer Prize, for his front-page reports in the Washington Post from Iraq. More recently, as Middle East correspondent for the New York Times, he covered the Arab Spring from Egypt to Libya (where he was held captive in March, 2011) to Syria. In 2010, he earned his second Pulitzer. Tragically, on February 16, 2012, he died while on assignment in Syria.

Table of Contents

Contents

Prologue: Winter

PART ONE

I Arriving

II The Family Tree

III"1963

IV The Discovery of Cape Cod

V"Rooftree

VI"Renovations

VII"Fishing

VIII"The North and South Faces

IX"The Barn

X"Plain Living

XI"Money

XII"Sailing

XIII"Tennis

Midsummer

PART TWO

XIV"Hidden House

XV"The Big Cove

XVI"Missing Cards

XVII"Rain

XVIII"The White Elephant

XIX"Full House

XX"Florida

XXI"Leaving

Epilogue: Indian Summer

Notes on Sources

Acknowledgments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780684845173
Subtitle:
A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East
Author:
Colt, George Howe
Author:
Shadid, Anthony
Publisher:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Location:
New York
Subject:
General
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Historic buildings
Subject:
Vacation homes
Subject:
Cape Cod
Subject:
Personal Memoirs
Subject:
Specific Groups - General
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
United States - State & Local - New England
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series Volume:
1
Publication Date:
June 2003
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1.15 lb

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Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » Americana » Massachusetts
History and Social Science » Americana » Northeast

The Big House: A Century in the Life of an American Summer Home Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Scribner Book Company - English 9780684845173 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Colt...is adept at exposing the dark underbelly of WASP restraint, recording the mental illness, alcoholism and despair that have plagued his family....This love letter to the past is a quiet delight."
"Review" by , "In a touching, deeply felt memoir...Colt goes beyond his own wistful longing, rendering keen observations of a lifestyle borne of privilege, perpetuated by tradition, and celebrated through elegance."
"Review" by , "[T]he wonder of this book is that the reader comes slowly, deeply, to comprehend the allure of a family world set staunchly against time, and the pathos of the author's struggle to let go of that world."
"Review" by , "Colt's account, like the house that lies at its center, is full of surprises and contains more than seems humanly possible: a family memoir, a brief history of the Cape, an investigation of nostalgia, a catalogue of local fauna, a study of class, and a meditation on the privileges and burdens of the past."
"Review" by , "The Big House brings engagingly and memorably to life the house and the people who inhabited it."
"Review" by , "Well researched and written with a meditative grace, Colt's book is obviously a labor of love. The only complaint is that, like a warm, breezy summer on the Cape, it ends far too quickly."
"Synopsis" by , A compelling saga of redemption and renewal from two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Anthony Shadid tells the story of rebuilding his family's ancestral home in Lebanon amid political strife, and his eventual understanding of the emotions behind the turbulence in the Middle East.
"Synopsis" by , “Evocative and beautifully written, House of Stone . . . should be read by anyone who wishes to understand the agonies and hopes of the Middle East.” — Kai Bird, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and author of Crossing Mandelbaum Gate

“In rebuilding his family home in southern Lebanon, Shadid commits an extraordinarily generous act of restoration for his wounded land, and for us all.” — Annia Ciezadlo, author of Day of Honey

In spring 2011, Anthony Shadid was one of four New York Times reporters captured in Libya, cuffed and beaten, as that country was seized by revolution. When he was freed, he went home. Not to Boston or Beirut—where he lives— or to Oklahoma City, where his Lebanese-American family had settled and where he was raised. Instead, he returned to his great-grandfathers estate, a house that, over three years earlier, Shadid had begun to rebuild.

House of Stone is the story of a battle-scarred home and a war correspondents jostled spirit, and of how reconstructing the one came to fortify the other. In this poignant and resonant memoir, the author of the award-winning Night Draws Near creates a mosaic of past and present, tracing the houses renewal alongside his familys flight from Lebanon and resettlement in America. In the process, Shadid memorializes a lost world, documents the shifting Middle East, and provides profound insights into this volatile landscape. House of Stone is an unforgettable meditation on war, exile, rebirth, and the universal yearning for home.

"Synopsis" by , In this intimate and poignant history of a sprawling century-old summer house on Cape Cod, George Howe Colt reveals not just one family's fascinating story but a vanishing way of life. Faced with the sale of the treasured house where he had spent forty-two summers, Colt returned for one last August with his wife and young children. The Big House, the author's loving tribute to his one-of-a-kind family home, interweaves glimpses of that elegiac final visit with memories of earlier summers spent at the house and of the equally idiosyncratic people who lived there over the course of five generations.

Built by Colt's great-grandfather one hundred years ago on a deserted Cape Cod peninsula, the house is a local landmark (neighboring children know it as the Ghost House): a four-story, eleven-bedroom jumble of gables, bays, sloped roofs, and dormers. The emotional home of the Colt family, the Big House has watched over five weddings, four divorces, and three deaths, along with countless anniversaries, birthday parties, nervous breakdowns, and love affairs. Beaten by wind and rain, insulated by seaweed, it is both romantic and run-down, a symbol of the faded glory of the Boston Brahmin aristocracy.

With a mixture of amusement and affection, Colt traces the rise and fall of this tragicomic social class while memorably capturing the essence of summer's ephemeral pleasures: sailing, tennis, fishing, rainy-day reading. Time seems to stand still in a summer house, and for the Colts the Big House always seemed an unchanging place in a changing world. But summer draws to a close, and the family must eventually say good-bye.

Elegant and evocative, The Big House is both magical and sad, a gift to anyone who holds cherished memories of summer.

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