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The Pinecone: The Story Of Sarah Losh, Forgotten Romantic Heroine--Antiquarian, Architect, And Visionary (2013)

by Jenny Uglow(Favorite Author)
3.53 of 5 Votes: 4
0374232873 (ISBN13: 9780374232870)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
review 1: Copy received from Good Reads First Reads Program. The author has passion for her subject, as evidenced in the Epilogue. Jenny Uglow hits her stride in the final pages, lending a lyricism to her writing that just doesn't come through in the rest of the book. Which is a real shame. Uglow has solid research and a good voice when she lets down her guard a little. It seems that in restraining herself, Uglow makes this a scholarly paper more than what could have been a love letter to a woman who was quite something.I would have liked to see more than just the facts. If only there were more letters, poems, drawings, etc., that would give more of a depth to Sarah Losh, and would elevate this biography. All that being said, I did make it all the way to the end of this book with re... morelative ease, and I would very much like to learn more about Sarah Losh as well as visit the church she designed. 2.5 stars.
review 2: I bought The Pinecone at the Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore because The New Yorker, in a 'Briefly Noted' review (Feb. 25 issue) called it 'mesmerizing.' It's about Sarah Losh, a wealthy women who lived in the north of England in the late 18th century and the first half of the 19th century. She designed several buildings, and - the best of all worlds for an architect - she had enough money to pay for building her own designs. A well written, carefully researched biography? Yes. Interesting in places? Yes. Mesmerizing? No. The main problem is - as the author, Jenny Uglow, admits - is that Losh destroyed most of her papers, and not much is known about her. So Uglow serves up a generous helping of intellectual and social history of Losh's time - some of it interesting, most not. Losh's buildings are the reason to write about her, but in 286 pages of text, we don't get the first detailed description of an important building designed by Losh until page 187. Incidentally, the title - The Pinecone - comes from the frequent appearance of pinecones in the decoration of Losh's building. And Uglow gives us a description of the symbolism associated with pinecones through history. The problem is that Uglow at the end of the day can't tell us Losh's reason for using pinecone motifs. Maybe Losh just liked the way they looked. less
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I tried and I tried and I tried... and just couldn't. Maybe another time.
Barbara Massam
Dianne books
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