A scion of a venerable British family presents a chronicle of his afflicted brother and their unusual childhood home.
“Our house,” writes Fiennes (The Snow Geese: A Story of Home, 2002), “was almost seven hundred years old.” It was, in fact, the ancestral family castle, equipped with suits of armor, rusting halberds and flaking portraits of severe forebears. There was a gift shop in the stables and a broad moat where Fiennes swam and fished as a child. He climbed the roofs, bicycled in the Great Hall, explored the secret corridors of the attic Barracks and played in the King’s Chamber. Care of the ancient house was important, but not as important as the care of the author’s older brother, who was subject to severe epileptic seizures. Richard was also afflicted with frontal lobe brain damage, perhaps due to medications or the injuries received during severe tonic-clonic attacks. In addition to his graceful evocation of their stately Tudor home and his brother’s experience with a debilitating illness, Fiennes writes elegantly about Mum on the viola in the music room and Dad on the bridge welcoming tourists and film crews. It’s a verdant, elegiac recollection, sometimes suddenly shifting from one narrative state to another, leaping oddly—but fluidly—to the present tense from the past. Interspersed is a précis of the history of research regarding his brother’s status epilecticus.
An artful memory piece about a unique home life.