Why were kitchens once placed as far away from the main house as possible? Why were there times in history when people did not bathe? Why did everyone once cover their heads while sleeping? What are the origins of many of our modern homes and customs? In If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, Lucy Worsley delves deep into the history of our home, focusing on the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. But this is much more than a history of what comprised these rooms throughout history. Rather, it is a look at how people used these rooms ~ and all the sordid things they did in them!
With chapters on childbirth, menstruation, sexual relations and other rather taboo subjects, this book is certainly not for every reader who is interested in history. But Worsley definitely keeps it from being a dry recap of history by including these topics that just about everyone can relate to. Many of the little facts she reveals are fascinating and surprising. I must say I learned quite a lot about everyday life, and how our homes and our customs evolved throughout different eras of history.
Reading this book from start to finish was a bit daunting, though, and I found myself skimming more and more as I went on. I found certain topics much more interesting than others, which I'm sure is to be expected. But some of the references to modern-day England were lost on me since several things are quite different in the U.S. I also found there was an overwhelming focus on the upper class as she reviewed historical customs.
Overall, I would recommend If Walls Could Talk to anyone who has an interest in learning some very unique facts about the evolution of our homes and customs ~ as long as you're not squeamish about some of the more intimate details Worsley covers about birth, life and death!
My Rating: 3.5/5
For more information, visit the author's website
This review was written based on a digital galley of If Walls Could Talk that I received from Bloomsbury through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.