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A Rose-Covered House

Where does your mind wander when you see an image? If you are like me and enjoy a certain kind of novel or mystery set in the English countryside, then you probably swoon at the sight of rose-covered houses. Is there anything more romantic? It is a sight that evokes the enchantment of a fairy tale. Remember the Madeline stories? "In an old house in Paris that was covered in vines, lived twelve little girls in two straight lines..." And it conjures up some of my favorite books and literary characters.   

I can picture a heroine from Henry James, Isabel Archer perhaps, peering through these windows. 

 And behind this window I can imagine characters from Jane Austen's novels -- maybe the Dashwood or the Bennet sisters. Having been forced out of their manor house, they are living in reduced circumstances and residing in a cottage, though a very charming one at that.

This could be the ramshackle castle where the young heroine of I Capture the Castle lived with her eccentric family, dreaming of romance and writing her diary while "sitting in the kitchen sink."

And it is easy to envision a witty Nancy Mitford heroine walking through this door at any moment
with the bucolic landscape of the Cotswolds as her backdrop.

Jane Eyre could easily have looked up and spied these scarlet climbing roses at Thornfield Hall.

 And virtuous May Welland, Newland Archer's fiance in The Age of Innocence, might have trembled as she imagined a not quite suitable female living behind these walls.

This could have been the window through which Miss Mapp first spied her rival Lucia in the Mapp and Lucia  books by E. F. Benson. 

Photo by Kimberly Wold

And Margaret Schlegel of E.M. Forster's Howards End could have gazed up at this rose-covered house and fallen in love with it.

We all have these Proustian moments when we see an image and are taken on a little journey into the past. Rose-covered houses remind me of my trip to the Cotswolds that I took a few years ago. The sight of them also takes me back to some of my favorite books set in the English countryside. Images from travel and books can stay with us forever. We file them away in our memory bank and don't even realize they are there until something sparks a remembrance. And then we are off...

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