If Walls Could Talk. An intimate history of the home
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.
Lucy Worsley is a participant in The Natinal Archives Writer of the Month programme.
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Staff Reviews Lucy Worsley's book "If Walls Could Talk, an Intimate History of the Home" was also the subject of a television series of the same name. Don't be fooled by the apparently architectural reference in the title, the key word here is most definitely 'intimate'. The book presents a wealth of fascinating detail from the way that lives were lived through the ages, and doesn't shy away from very personal topics such as sex and personal hygiene. In fact one of the more thought-provoking aspects of the book is how attitudes to privacy have changed over time, with different rules applying at different times depending on your gender, prosperity and position in society.
While the colour plates in the book can't quite reproduce Lucy's exploits on television (whether striding around in her signature colourful coats or playing the part in period costume) it builds on the programme content with even more intriguing insights and yet is still very easy and enjoyable to read. When did you last pick up a book that told stories ranging from how Henry VIII used laxatives (to great effect, apparently) right up to the groundbreaking introduction of the duvet by Habitat in the 1960's?
Mary Gledhill Commercial Director