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If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home
     

If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home

3.3 37
by Lucy Worsley
 

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Worsley is a thoughtful, charming, often hilarious guide to life as it was lived, from the mundane to the esoteric.?? -The Boston Globe

Why did the flushing toilet take two centuries to catch on? Why did medieval people sleep sitting up? When were the two dirty centuries??? Why, for centuries, did rich people fear fruit?

In her

Overview

Worsley is a thoughtful, charming, often hilarious guide to life as it was lived, from the mundane to the esoteric.?? -The Boston Globe

Why did the flushing toilet take two centuries to catch on? Why did medieval people sleep sitting up? When were the two dirty centuries??? Why, for centuries, did rich people fear fruit?

In her brilliantly and creatively researched book, Lucy Worsley takes us through the bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen, covering the history of each room and exploring what people actually did in bed, in the bath, at the table, and at the stove-from sauce stirring to breast-feeding, teeth cleaning to masturbating, getting dressed to getting married-providing a compelling account of how the four rooms of the home have evolved from medieval times to today, charting revolutionary changes in society.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Who could not be enthralled by the history of toilet paper? Anyone who lives in a home with a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom will delight in reading this history of the development of home life." ---Kirkus Starred Review
Library Journal
Was tea once considered a dangerous drink? How often did people bathe hundreds of years ago? With the lack of household privacy during many eras, where did people go to be alone? Worsley (chief curator, Historic Royal Palaces; The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace) explores these and other questions as she looks at four major rooms of the home—bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen. Drawing only from published British history sources, she examines how the uses of these rooms and ways of thinking about them evolved from the medieval era to the modern day in response to technological advances, changing social attitudes, and the constant desire for increased comfort. Worsley's enthusiasm for her subject is apparent, but her organization is somewhat muddled and many of the subjects discussed receive only a cursory glance; this volume, written to accompany a BBC series she hosted for a popular audience, will best please casual readers. VERDICT Full of factoids, but with some small errors, this might serve as a good introduction to those new to the history of houses or the study of material culture, but it lacks citations and will not appeal to more serious readers.—Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia
Kirkus Reviews
This masterful social history illustrates the lessons you could never have learned in school, and with a great deal more entertainment. With inspired precision, historian Worsley (The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace, 2010) entertainingly traces the expansion of the rooms of the house from medieval times to the present. As chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the author has opportunities not only to research upper-class habits through the centuries, but also to be able to physically experience the arduous lives of the lower-class men and women who served them. One of the great strengths of her book is the exposure of all levels of society throughout the history of England, with delightful notations of daily life most readers would not ponder: the food they ate, the way they cooked it, the privacy they lacked, the diseases they endured, etc. Just the fact that bathing was out of favor from 1500 to 1750 will make many readers appreciate living in modern times. Many of today's common necessities, such as the toilet, the dishwasher and the kitchen extractor fan, changed daily life in unimaginable ways. Even so, in 1960 only 60 percent of London homes had a refrigerator. The availability of an army of servants to manage a home faded as the opportunities for education and betterment lured the staff away from the scullery and the pantry. This lighthearted approach to the most intimate moments of our lives informs, amuses and titillates. Who could not be enthralled by the history of toilet paper? Anyone who lives in a home with a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom will delight in reading this history of the development of home life.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780802712721
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
02/28/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
368
Sales rank:
162,001
File size:
11 MB
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What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
"Who could not be enthralled by the history of toilet paper? Anyone who lives in a home with a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom will delight in reading this history of the development of home life." —-Kirkus Starred Review

Meet the Author

Lucy Worsley is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace State Apartments, the Banqueting House in Whitehall, and Kew Palace in Kew Gardens. The author of The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace and Cavalier: A Tale of Chivalry, Passion, and Great Houses, she lives in London.
Lucy Worsley is, by day, Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the independent charity that looks after The Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace State Apartments, the Banqueting House in Whitehall, and Kew Palace in Kew Gardens. By night, she is a writer and presenter, most recently author of the Cavalier: a Tale of Passion, Chivalry and Great Houses, described by the Mail on Sunday as a remarkable achievement by an immensely talented and innovative historian.

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If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book isn't intended to be a scholarly dissertation on the history of living. Instead, it is a enjoyable amble through the rooms that we all still occupy today. As such, I had a great time reading the trivia of days gone by. Good read! Now I'm off to watch the BBC television version that's still offered its website...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be very interesting and informative. I do not understand why it does not have a higher rating. It is well organized and filled with historical tidbits. There is also a photo collection at the end that is also referenced with links throughout the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is poorly written. The chapters need structural overhauls as the points jump around without a clear line of development in the chapter or in the paragraphs. Even more distressing, this book contains historical inaccuracies. I wish the author had done some research rather than pepper each chapter with random anecdotes, some of which are not accurate. The chapters do not contain footnotes!! The author does not cite her sources!!
Sophy0075 More than 1 year ago
I was very disappointed in this book, given the employment position of its author. If one knew absolutely nothing about the history of the development of the modern house, it would be passable; however, a cursory Google search on "history kitchen" or of any other room in a modern home would yield as much, if not more, information, fairly quickly. Ms Worsley also had an annoying habit of attempting to make a joke at the end of each chapter - a joke that, to my mind, fell flat and often was colored by her political beliefs and opinions. Frankly, the book read like a tv script. Not surprising, I guess, because the BBC produced the tv series with Ms Worsley as the announcer before she set fingers to computer typewriter. Only get this book if it is free.
Sarjevane More than 1 year ago
Each chapter is about a specific subject about the home, which makes it very organized. However, the insertion of the author's comments on modern life disrupts the reading and push one to question the historical quality of the book. Overall, it was entertaining and I learned a few things.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got through about half and didn't find it worth finishing
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Total wadte of time, money and nook space. Minus stars.
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This book is advertised at $3.99 but when i go to purchase it B&N is charging $9.49. Both a great deal but very misleading.
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goodnurse More than 1 year ago
i enjoyed the history and the humor