From wagons to manors: perfect vacation homes

Vacation Homes and Perfect
Weekend Hideaways

By Karen Howes
Merrell, £29.95
FT bookshop price £19.95

The socialist in me disapproves of holiday homes. The hypocritical hedonist loves the simple seaside cottage I call my own a week each year.

This is a coffee-table book and author Karen Howes doesn’t touch on the politics. She does relate a touching tale about her memories of a holiday house on the island of Skye, Scotland, though.

Forty beautiful ‘Vacation Homes’ are pictured throughout. Some are available for rent. They range from a gypsy caravan-like wagon, wheeled on to an English family’s lawn each summer, to a manor in Mustique. Finely choreographed interior shots are accompanied by text about each property, its designer, owner and, sometimes, non-human visitors: the apartment where monkeys come for dinner; the house in Zambia where hippos visit.

The owner of the remote shabby-chic house in Jura sounds at one with the Earth. I want to see her portrait but humans are absent throughout, as are most mundane details of personality; but spotting the few is a treat. Which owner reads rightwing tabloid newspapers? One of the joys of renting a holiday home is examining the family photos and bookshelves and then surmising.

I don’t have room for Vacation Homes in my London flat: it’s going to the seaside cottage.

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