Make Something Good Today by Erin & Ben Napier

A non-fiction pick by Jean-Louis

Gallery Books, 2018

I admit that I am a sucker for the programs of HGTV. In each episode, the host couple select a dilapidated house and within one hour all the work is done and the house looks fabulous. It is almost like it is done with no effort. Through the episode we get to learn one or two things about design or construction and we get to second-guess decorating choices. What is not to love?

Erin and Ben Napier are the hosts of the series “Hometown” and they are the authors of this charming memoir. Okay, without the TV series we would not be interested, but this couple are the real deal. The book takes us back to some of their childhood and on through college, their courtship, early careers, and on to their business success. The book is also a love story. Ben is a great big bear of a man with a gentle sense of humour and a quiet confidence in his ability to “make something good” out of things at hand. He loves to find beauty in the houses they renovate and shares his passion for honouring found materials. Erin is an artist and a true partner with “Big” Ben. She is the designer, decorator, and quintessential hometown girl.

In the TV series and the book, the other love story is with their home town of Laurel, Mississippi. They are renovating and rejuvenating their town. When they take on a project it is often within walking distance of their own home. To say that they have a vested interest is an understatement. The producers at HGTV discovered Erin and Ben because of one of their earlier on-line business ventures and tapped them to take on what has become a true hit in the renovation TV world. On TV and in this book, the couple share their passion for design, construction, their town, and each other. As Ben promises, “There is going to be fireworks, emotional fireworks,” but it is all family friendly. With baby Helen making a few cameos, one can only wish this young family all the best.

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