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“Houses aren’t refuges from history. They are where history ends up.”
Bill Bryson and his family live in a Victorian parsonage in a part of England where nothing of any great significance has happened since the Romans decamped. Yet one day, he began to consider how very little he knew about the ordinary things of life as he found it in that comfortable home. To remedy this, he formed the idea of journeying about his house from room to room to “write a history of the world without leaving home.”
The bathroom provides the occasion for a history of hygiene; the bedroom, sex, death, and sleep; the kitchen, nutrition and the spice trade; and so on, as Bryson shows how each has figured in the evolution of private life. Whatever happens in the world, he demonstrates, ends up in our house, in the paint and the pipes and the pillows and every item of furniture.
Bill Bryson has one of the liveliest, most inquisitive minds on the planet, and he is a master at turning the seemingly isolated or mundane fact into an occasion for the most diverting exposition imaginable. His wit and sheer prose fluency make At Home one of the most entertaining books ever written about private life.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Tina on 10-23-10
Another wonderful Bryson
Another entertaining look at life and history from one of my favorite writers. Walking through the English parsonage he calls home, Bryson explores the history and uses of homes themselves, and many of the minutiae in them.
While parts of the bathroom and bedroom had a strong "ick" factor, his explorations of the 19th and early 20th century --explorers, inventors, thinkers, the Industrial Revolution --was fabulous, and invites the reader to read further about people or inventions of particular interest, with excellent bibliographic references.
23 of 23 people found this review helpful
By Chris on 12-15-10
Bill Bryson is as engaging as ever with clever observations, amusing anecdotes and a wry take on historical events. His discussion of the history of the home veers off into many paths, all of which are enlightening. I found myself being educated and entertained at the same time.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful