February 12, 2012

Review - If Walls Could Talk (Lucy Worsley)

An intimate history of home life. It takes us through the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen, covering the architectural history of each room, but concentrating on what people actually did in bed, in the bath, at the table, and at the stove.
Why did the flushing toilet take two centuries to catch on? Why did Samuel Pepys never give his mistresses an orgasm? Why did medieval people sleep sitting up? When were the two 'dirty centuries'? Why did gas lighting cause Victorian ladies to faint? Why, for centuries, did people fear fruit? All these questions will be answered in this juicy, smelly and truly intimate history of home life. Lucy Worsley takes us through the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen, covering the architectural history of each room, but concentrating on 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 masturbation, getting dressed to getting married, this book will make you see your home with new eyes.


Review
You don't have to hold a suspenseful thriller in your hands to be engrossed by things that happen behind somebody's walls. In If Walls Could Talk Lucy Worsley takes the reader on a tour not only through the house, but through the centuries. From medieval peasants to Henry VIII, from Victorian aristocracy to your own grandparents - the actual main characters are all their humble dwellings.
I realize some might find this to be an awfully mundane topic, but trust me, it is not yet another boring history lesson. If you're even slightly interested in the origins of the four main rooms in a house - bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen - you will not be disappointed. Unraveling the uses and relevance of these living places over the centuries - just take the bedroom which used to be a living space before becoming the very private place it is today - the author does not simply cross the development of household appliances off a list, but instead embeds many fascinating historical tidbits of what the lives of those were like who dwelled in these homes into a well rounded picture.
Engaging and informative this proved to be quite the page turner for me! The conversational style made reading all the more fun - a wonderful journey into times long gone during which I learned a thing or two about the colorful past of the houses we still live in today.
In short: A thoroughly enjoyable history lesson!

5/5 stars

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the NetGalley book review program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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