- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 9 hours and 43 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Tantor Audio
- Audible.com Release Date: May 28, 2012
- Language: English
- ASIN: B0086S47G6
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home Audible – Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
If the TV series which accompanied the book in the UK is shown in the US (or the DVD is offered for sale) be sure to watch it. Worsley is a quite wonderful presenter with a posh girl accent and great clarity of diction, combined with an ability to make everything she says seem interesting.
Worsley loves to ham it up and obviously delights in imagining all that history can offer the present. Her interest is infectious and passing on her enthusiasm seems to be her purpose in writing the book. To me, she succeeds in a way as entertaining as educating.
The book is a tour of four main rooms of the house from medieval times forward, the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. Throughout, anecdote means more than evidence.
The Victorian bedroom, for example was a place as you can imagine for many things. Among them, it served as an operating room where Restoration diarist Samuel Pepys famously had surgery to remove bladder stones.
The preparations took place in a cousin's bedchamber. "Pepys was tied down on a table so that he could not thrash about, and two strong men were also present to 'hold him by the knees' and `by the arm-holes.' "
When death came to Mary II from smallpox in 1694, "rich gums and spices to stuff the body" kept her corpse sweet smelling during the period of mourning. (I couldn't help but think of the accounts of exploding pontiffs whose bodies were prohibited by canon law from being embalmed.)
Bill Bryson covers much of the same territory as Worsley in his cultural history "At Home." His book felt to me as cluttered as some of the overstuffed rooms he described. Where Bryson aggregates facts and offers up lists, Worsley tells us how people lived.Read more ›
This book is written the way all historical non-fiction should be written - with familiarity and humour. Worsley has covered the history of all things domestic, from the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen. That's sounds like a dull topic, right? Wrong.
Most people generally don't appreciate how far we had to come from cleaning our teeth with twigs and salt like the Tudors (and conforming to the waxing and waning of attitudes towards bathing) to today where we generally enjoy the highest level of health, hygiene and comfort.
`If Walls Could Talk' contains the answers to the things you've always wondered about life in the past. Worsley also explains things you didn't even know you were curious about - such as old-school contraception, the Elizabethan answer to blonde-in-a-bottle and what knights were wearing for underwear beneath all that chainmail (hardly anything).
What I Loved:
I while I had a general understanding that everyone `back then' was smelly and over-dressed, I was shocked by the customs and beliefs that shaped the way we live today - the way we dress, raise our children and even the way we sleep at night. This is the kind of history that everyone can relate to and yet no one seems to talk about. I was never taught this kind of history at school - if I had been, maybe I would have enjoyed that subject more.
What was Lacking:
Some people will find some topics more interesting than others, but that is also kind of the appeal of this book - there is something for everyone.Read more ›
As `An Intimate History of the Home', If Walls Could Talk is filled with fascinating, useful, useless and sometimes just plain revolting information about the homes and lives of our British ancestors (with some information on the Americans). Some of the information (like the discussion on childbirth) I Really Did Not Need To Know. At the same time, it makes me wonder what modern cultural or medical beliefs we hold will be mocked or looked upon with horror by future generations.
For example, have you ever said it is time to hit the hay or hit the sack? Worsley reminds us that this saying derives from a time when most beds were a sack stuffed with hay (at the rich end of the spectrum, Henry VIII apparently slept on eight feather mattresses which travelled with him).
There was also some gentle mocking of some of our modern standards, such as our "strange desirability of imperfection", our belief in the superiority of hand-made products, even through they have "a certain margin of crudeness. The margin must never be so wide as to show bungling workmanship, since that would be evidence of low cost, nor so narrow as to suggest the ideal precision attained only by the machine, for that would be evidence of low cost."
The author has undertaken extensive research, and If Walls Could Talk has over 40 period illustrations, a comprehensive list of references and a detailed index.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Dr. Worsley makes interesting and fun. If you see her bok, get it!Published 12 days ago by Cheryl L. Whelan
Learned quite a bit. Broad overview of the origins of so much we take for granted!Published 1 month ago by ann mudge
Absolutely intresting. A scholarly work written in a way that easily interests a lay person. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.Published 3 months ago by erobinson
Very interesting and insightful. Never thought so much about how the design of a home impacted culture and how changes in culture impacts the design of a home.Published 3 months ago by Stephanie C. Binns
A room by room examination of daily life in a particular era. Endlessly fascinating.Published 3 months ago by Kathy Felgran
Full of interesting info. Well organized. An interesting glimpse of other times and the way our ancestors lived their livesPublished 5 months ago by Irene Herz
I am a huge fan of Lucy Worsley. She presents her information with a touch of humour which keeps it interesting and never too dry. Read morePublished 6 months ago by S. E. Jarvis
became familiar with such worsley because of her bbc documentaries. she doesn't disappoint with this book, i.e., she writes like she speaks. Read morePublished 6 months ago by nola person