Inspired And Defined By Home And Hearth

WRITERS' HOUSES

Photographs by Erica Lennard, Text by Francesca Premoli-Doulers

The Vendome Press

199 pp., $50

Like most coffee-table books, ''Writers' Houses'' is beautifully photographed, oversized ,and a bit overpriced. At first glance the subject matter - the unique domiciles where great writers lived - suggests a light fare. Yet this book offers more than a quick skim.

The authors selected 20 writers from the past 100 years who all had something in common: love for a certain place at a certain time. These are the houses where they did most of their writing - Karen Blixen in Rungstedlung, Denmark; William Faulkner in Oxford, Miss.; Dylan Thomas in Laugharne, Wales.

The writers were both inspired and defined by their houses. Their homes offered solitude and refuge. Referring to his red-brick mansion in Hartford, Conn., Mark Twain said: ''It has a heart, and a soul, and eyes to see us ... it was of us, and we are in its confidence, and lived in its grace and in the peace of its benedictions.''

The photos and text give readers the chance to look inside - literally - the full and sometimes tragic lives of these writers and come away with a sense of what had been. It's a fascinating look.

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