Edifice Obsessions

W-DeskLady2 Pat here:
Mary Jo tells me I have a strong Cancer rising, which means I’m a house person, and the planets could be onto something there. I have renovated, restored, and improved over half a dozen houses in my checkered career, and that’s just the real ones, not the ones I create in my books.

Whenever I start a book, I have to know where my characters live so I can picture how they react to different settings. In the book I’m currently revising, when I bring my poor bankrupt earl  reluctantly home, I provided him with a edifice of impressive proportions, right down to the architects:  It was a beautiful Palladian home, built from the ground up based on plans from Colen Campbell and influenced by Inigo Jones’s designs. The first earl’s wife had a love of grace and order, and more taste than dowry. For a century, no expense had been spared. Robert Adam had added his touch to ceilings and fireplaces throughout the great rooms. Capability Brown had designed the grounds.

CastleHoward And of course, he hasn’t a penny to keep up any of it.  I think I rather imagined it as a smaller version of Castle Howard, a mansion that, once seen, sticks firmly in mind. But my fictional estate has been sadly neglected for decades, and my hero has just learned to enjoy the cozy comfort of my heroine's modest three-story brick “cottage” surrounded by neatly trimmed yews and ivy, of a sort to be seen all over England. I dearly wanted to spend more time with this couple just to see how they deal with the house disparities! (Here's a lovely manor in Oxfordshire, the area in which my heroine lives: www.manorfarm-wantage.co.uk/ That's the picture on the right.) Manor house

But alas, once I marry off the protagonists, I must let them wander off on their own, only occasionally stopping by to visit in subsequent books.  It’s like giving up a house of my own, moving on to the next. Which I’m wickedly devising as we speak, an overgrown bungalow in Chelsea with an aviary is forming on the pages…

As readers, do you pay much attention to the houses our characters inhabit? Do you picture yourselves in the gloomy towers or domed foyers? Or is it all just irritating information to be skimmed over until you get to the juicy parts?