This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is the story of the Messer family, who lived in one of New England's oldest houses...it is also the story of the Hatch family, whose legacy on the land began long before the United States could claim the same thing. It is very clearly and lovingly researched, and includes a wealth of information about not only the two families, but the house itself - from the smallest, most humble beginnings to the overwhelming restorations, every detail is conveyed with such affection, it makes the house seem more like a living, breathing creature than a collection of wood and stone. I loved this book so much that I hope to one day visit this beautiful house, which has already captured my imagination...as the caretaker of a home that was built in 1901, I understand how the uneven floors, slanted walls and little quirks can be the charm that allows a homeowner to overlook all the shortcomings. Old houses are GREAT, and the Red House seems to be one of the greatest old dames out there.
I enjoyed the way the author alternates her family's recent history in the house with the 300-year-old history of the house itself.
Like the author's father, my own father purchased an old New England house before my sister and I were born. I identified with many of Messner's experiences, from living in a chilly house during New England winters to the feeling that I was living in a house that held its own history from families that lived there before us.
You can take this as a documentary, historical survey of culture and house building in New England with personal vignettes, or you can take it as the saga of a family that takes on the heritage of another family, with warm personal insights. Its both and I think succeeds in both ways, tho others might say it falls between two stools. I read it pretty much continuously so must have enjoyed it. The writing is good and the research thorough. It's possible to find the location on a map, although the author tries to not give too much away, they don't want hoardes tramping up their driveway. But in truth the vision of how Masachusetts was one and two centuries ago is the most appealing part, I suspect.
This was a pleasant book to read, filled with interesting history of a family's legacy with building and occupying a home still in existance since about 1647 in Marshfield, Mass., coupled with stories of the author and her family that purchased the home in 1965. It makes you think of home restoration and preservation, respecting the "footprints" that prior residents brought while they lived in the Red House.
If you enjoy early Ameicana history, this is a book you will want to spend a few days with in the comfort of your own favorite place.