Interesting and Informative Apr 17, 2008
I have to state up front that I am a fiction reader for the very reason that many advocate non-fiction. I think that you can learn a lot more from fiction, at least learn a lot more about the important stuff in life. That said, I did learn a lot from this book. I have some knowledge of the building trades but I did learn about building here and the jargon used throughout the book made sense. I also learned about architecture and, even though, I'm not a big fan, I've been picking out Greek Revival architecture in my neighborhood.
But what was most interesting, for me, was the character development and what we can ultimately learn about human nature. One of the major themes of the book is the appreciation for craftsmen working their craft and how that comes up against the limits imposed by our turbo-capitalist economy. To a certain extent the book is about the conflict between the yuppie client and the craftsmen who are building the house. Not to give too much away, but, yet again, the yuppie is able to grind away on the workers so that they end up making no profit on the deal while sacrificing and literally risking their bodies and lives in the process. The convoluted order of the world is maintained.
Kidder is an excellent writer and the prose is very good, well beyond the simple unobtrusiveness necessary to tell a story. I recommend it, especially if you are contemplating building a house or putting on an addition or tackling a major remodel.