06 September 2011

Review: A Lifetime in the Building - The Extraordinary Story of May Savidge and the House She Moved | Christine Adams

This is the true story of Miss May Savidge and her determination to prevent her historic house in Hertfordshire from being bulldozed in the name of progress. She attended numerous council meetings, wrote thousands of letters and when the council would not budge, she decided to save it by painstakingly dismantling it piece by piece and slowly reassembling it in a new location in Norfolk.

Being an engineer and brought up in hard times, May did most of the construction work herself, but it meant that progress was slow, and months ran into years. Conducting business by written correspondence as well as dealing with unreliable tradesmen didn't help the matter.

Sadly May didn't live to see the finish of her house, although author and daughter-in-law Christine Adams made a promise to May in her final moments and saw to it that the house was finished. (May bequeathed the house to Christine and she now runs it as a Bed & Breakfast).

May Savidge was a hoarder and Christine was amazed, astonished and overwhelmed at the stuff May accumulated over the years. Not a single bus ticket or newspaper had been thrown away, but even more than that, the belongings had been carefully and accurately filed away. May had made copies of her letters and kept notes regarding the progress of the construction of her house.

Christine remembers these years with a pang of guilt, and wishes she had offered to help but May was stubborn and wouldn't accept any help. May's story received attention in several newspapers which generated a lot of mail and it seems she made an effort to answer each and every letter.

After her passing, her house generated interest when a member from the Antiques Roadshow came to look at an antique desk. The staff member became more interested in the history of the house and May Savidge than the desk. The interest in May and her house snowballed and Christine agreed to write a book, and now we have: A Lifetime in the Building - The Extraordinary Story of May Savidge and the House She Moved.

I thoroughly enjoyed this biography, and found Miss May Savidge to be a courageous, persistent and patient woman. I could not have willingly chosen the living conditions and hardships she put up with year in and year out; although from time to time I also found the whole situation a little frustrating. I wish she'd had some help and had time to enjoy it when she was alive, but it wasn't to be. A great read.

My rating = ***1/2

Carpe Librum!

4 comments:

TBM said...

This sound like a good story. Thanks for sharing.

Tracey said...

You're more than welcome.

Angie said...

I could hardly put it down but just finished! Fantasic story, amazing lady.

Tracey said...

Glad you enjoyed it too.