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Kaye, who wrote Fake, Fraud, or Genuine: Identifying Authentic Antique Furniture, wants us to "read" the cultural and social significance of tables, chairs, porches, windows and home layouts. The detailed historical perspective she provides here allows readers to do just that. Early New England antiques are Kaye's strong suit, but her fascination with that period and place might occasionally exceed that of a general-interest reader who comes to the book for a broader perspective. In addition, the superior tone with which she corrects other people's perceived misconceptions (annoyingly termed "fawbits" here, for fictional accounts without basis in truth) quickly becomes tiresome. Kaye's brightest moments are when she uses her historical knowledge to shine light on the present. After tracing the history of the American kitchen, Kaye's riff on the modern gadget that dispenses boiling water at your kitchen sink gleams like a gem. But she places higher value (and writes many more words) on historical goose chases, such as an overwrought attempt to prove the American porch came from Africa with the slaves. This might well be true, but Kaye's unwieldy prose makes the theory sound convoluted. In sections where she has less to prove, her voice is much more appealing.
Copyright 1998 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.