I am absolutely delighted by this book. After opening to a random page, I called my 11 yr old son over, and said, "What do you think of this house?" He was interested, then flabbergasted, when I told him it is a miniature made nearly 100 years ago! We couldn't put the book down and looked at every page together. He was amazed at the detail and the fact that it has lights, water, and working elevators.
As I expected, this more modern book about the dolls' house is a great improvement over Everybody's book of the queen's dolls' house, , which I wrote a review for earlier. It begins with the story of how Princess Marie Louise got the idea to build the house, and about Sir Edwin Lutyens, the architect who planned and organized the work. He also designed many pieces of furniture and other items in the house. There are photographs of these persons, Queen Mary, and others involved. Lutyens had the dolls' house in his home parlor for two full years. A door and part of a wall were demolished to get the shell inside! There's a picture of workers beginning to pack it up upon completion. It tells about where and when the house has been exhibited to the public, souvenirs sold, and why the house was a particularly special gift for this queen.
The house is not meant to be a castle. It is meant to be a more personal royal residence which would accurately portray modern life in the 1920's. You know, modern items like rubber hot water bottles! The house is presented in sections based on floor plan; each portion begins with the plan and moves on to descriptions of the rooms, accompanied by gorgeous photographs in full color. Many items are described in detail, and their size in inches is given. A few items are photographed alongside full size objects, like a cricket ball, a match, or a dinner plate. The difficulties of manufacture are explained: how does one fill tiny wine bottles with the real wine? How did they get the bed drapery, a thick fabric, to hang properly? How do the elevators work? What are the trees in the garden made of? How long did it take to hand embroider all the linens?
Lists are given for the contents of the wine cellar, library books, place settings, etc., but they are not all complete lists. The author points out that comprehensive lists are in the two-volume set, The Book of the Queen's Dolls' House, and Book of the Queen's Dolls' House Library [2 Volumes], but seeing as that set is a 1924 limited edition of 1500, it seems unlikely most of us will ever see, much less own one. Perhaps a careful online search will reveal the facts for those interested.
This book is a must for doll house fans, and would also be fun for history buffs and those who can appreciate the fine workmanship. I think it would also be a great gift for children, boys or girls. Time and again I pored over the older book as a child, and this book is much more fascinating!