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If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley
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If Walls Could Talk (edition 2011)

by Lucy Worsley

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196None60,218 (3.84)14
Member:gilbertine
Title:If Walls Could Talk
Authors:Lucy Worsley
Info:Faber And Faber Ltd. (2011), Hardcover, 256 pages
Collections:Your library, Read but unowned
Rating:*
Tags:history, library, 2012

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If Walls Could Talk: An intimate history of the home by Lucy Worsley

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A largely anecdotal and breezy romp through "house and home," in which Worsley touches briefly on various and sundry aspects of life, from the brushing of teeth to the preparation of food to the composition of pillows. I noticed a few small errors, some very questionable etymological excursions, and some grand generalizations that don't entirely seem backed up by evidence ... and without any sort of citations, it's very hard to take them at face value. A fun read, but I'm not sure it's entirely to be trusted on all counts. ( )
  JBD1 | Mar 18, 2014 |
I am only on page 36 and am already pretty frustrated with this, and I may or may not keep reading. This is exactly the type of chatty, sociological survey that I adore, but I also adore proper citations in my non-fiction.

For this book, there's a bibliography, there's a topical index, but there are NO FOOTNOTES. If you tell me that a medieval travel guide used certain phrases, then I want to know what travel guide it was, I don't want to have to pour through the bibliography hoping to stumble across it. If you tell me that most people in England use duvets rather than sheets and blankets, I want to know sales figures that back this up, because I'm over here in the US and this is not necessarily what I see represented in movies, TV shows, and books. And if you're going to tell me that the origin of the phrase "sleep tight" has to do with the sagging ropes in medieval bed frames, you're just wrong, because a search will show that the OED doesn't record that phrase until 1933, and a couple easily-found articles offer an alternate, research-supported theory that you don't even mention in your text.

There are some fascinating pieces of information and interesting suppositions in this book so far, but frankly I am going to have to take everything else in the book with a grain of salt. Boo. ( )
  MelissaZD | Jan 1, 2014 |
A bit superficial but interesting look at the English home and how it came to be the way it is. A good companion to the TV series it has an extensive bibliography. It does show how the English home was influenced by other factors but it's largely about the British home.

It does suffer a little from trying to cram it all in but at the same time I found it interesting and quite readable. There were details about things that wouldn't find their way into a TV series and at other times I wanted more illustrations and information. ( )
  wyvernfriend | Jun 20, 2013 |
Lucy Worsley is the charmingly quirky presenter of the BBC documentary series of the same name which explored how humans lived at home from medieval times onwards. Worsley divides her book into four parts/rooms: bed room, bath room, living room and kitchen. She tells many amazing stories about the past and reveals the ingenuity and craziness of how people used to deal with life's problems (unfortunately, the book lacks footnotes). What is missing from the book is the fifth room found in most houses: the stable/cellar/hobby room/garage, probably because that male domain was beyond Worsley's focus. Both an entertaining documentary and a good if superficial book. ( )
  jcbrunner | Jan 31, 2013 |
This book, a companion to the BBC television series of the same name, explores the history of the home, along with other social customs, by looking at four rooms of the house - bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. The author is the chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces, a charitable organization that looks over various royal properties in London and its surrounding area, and thus, is something of an expert in this field.

The book is written in a breezy way and will arm amateur historians with lots of factoids for their next game of trivial pursuit. However, this is not a scholarly book as evidenced by the total lack of footnotes. This book could best be regarded as a fun introduction to the way life was lived in the past and, hopefully send the reader off to read more substantial books on the subject. ( )
  etxgardener | Jul 23, 2012 |
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What I want to know is, in the Middle Ages, did they do anything for Housemaid's Knee? What did they put in their hot baths after jousting?

H. G. Wells, Tono-Bungay, 1909
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Why did the flushing toilet take two centuries to catch on? (Introduction)
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"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."--Publisher.… (more)

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