Houses, if they were able to talk, would have a lot of stories to tell.
Our house has stories. It has eighteen years of stories in its walls, some of which I've forgotten. Other houses have stories too. Last week, for the first time, I got to see the house my mother grew up in. I had grown up hearing about life in that small town at the parsonage, but any picture I had in my head was entirely fictional. It was pretty special to see it for real--see the window of her bedroom, see the front door with the big house numbers, and imagine all the life that had gone on between those walls.
Fictional houses can tell a lot of stories too. These top ten are favorite ones I would love to visit.
1. 221b Baker street
Someday I'm going to London to see this, but I'd love to see the fictional one even more. The letters fixed to the mantle with a jack knife....the V on the wall made of bullet holes from Sherlock's target practise (in honor of Queen Victoria) and the comfortable rooms that Mrs. Hudson let them rent all those years.
The biggest vacation house in the history of ever, the Dinsmore and Travilla families went there whenever they needed a break from life or southern heat. It sounds beautiful, the grounds especially with the orange trees. I would love to spend a few months there and pretend to be rich while I was at it.
This is one I would visit simply for the sake of its grandness. The lake and the big, spacious halls would be very cool to tour, and it would be grand fun to try out a few notes on Georgiana's pianoforte.
4. The Stanton Home
Gene Stratton Porter describes this home with loving and painstaking detail. The parlor, the kitchen, the barn, and the outdoors all have beauty and order combined to perfection. The problem is, I'd rather visit this home and be smart enough to appreciate the various plants at the same time. I think the kitchen would be my favorite place, and the woods as well.
5. Jane Stuart's cottage
Jane's dad asks her if she knows what a house is like that has "lashings of magic" about it. Jane does, and they find such a house after the most jolly house hunt I have ever read. I would gladly sleep in the guest room at night. It would be grand fun to wake up in the morning to watch Jane slip downstairs. I could make breakfast and help her scrub the steps and plant the garden. Jane's house strikes me as a place where you can heal and be yourself. It makes me hungry for it just thinking about it.
6. The cave home in The Mysterious Island
These guys made everything. There was nothing they didn't know how to make, down to chemicals and gunpowder. Plus, who wouldn't want to visit a very cool cave home? I know I would.
7. Bag End
Bag End, with its cubby holes and old knickknacks and a pervading air of sameness about it. Stability and heritage are the words that come to mind when thinking of Bilbo's home. I would open the round door, and take a look at the Red Book, and hope to catch a glimpse of Bilbo or Frodo, quietly sitting at a desk and writing.
8. Jaeryn's House
I know this is technically cheating, since it's one of my own invention (Mental note: Schuyler honey, why is that cheating?) But I would go to Jaeryn's house hands-down. It's a combination home and clinic, and I feel as if I've lived in that place for years without ever having actually seen it. I would like to see the white blanket folded in his bottom bureau drawer, and the hall where he met a Great Threat, and the shelf in the clinic where he keeps his revolver. I'd also like to curl up on his sofa next to the fire and listen to Terry tell stories.
9. Brother Cadfael's monastery
This place feels like home to me. I'm not Catholic, but Ellis Peters does a stellar job portraying the community and ministry that take place there. Cadfael's herbarium and the guest lodge where visitors stay and the Abbot's study would be grand fun to wander through. I'd love to watch Cafael mix up his medicines and talk to him while he did it.
10. Owl's house
The Wolery will have lifelong connections to my heart. Seeing it in person would be grand, especially if I could be invisible, so I could watch the animals go about their business like usual. Seeing Pooh visit the Wolery for real would be too heartwarming to stand.
After writing this post, I'd almost like to do a companion post about how to write houses in literature. I have a passion point niggling in my brain that just doesn't fit here. So I shall file it away, and we'll see what comes.
Houses imply something. They are a source of love and comfort, a source of camaraderie, a place that hides away suffering and sin, and a place that offers healing. Not only do they supply it for the characters, but I think, in a subconscious way, they offer that hope and healing to readers as well.
What houses would you love to visit from your favorite stories? Prince Kit's castle? Cair Paravel? Green Gables? I'd love to know!