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Publisher's Summary

Why did the flushing toilet take two centuries to catch on? 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 rich people fear fruit?In her brilliantly and creatively researched book, Lucy Worsley takes us through the bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen. She covers the history of each room and explores what people actually did in bed, in the bath, at the table, and at the stove-from sauce stirring to breastfeeding, teeth cleaning to masturbation, getting dressed to getting married-providing a compelling account of how the four rooms of the home have evolved from medieval times to today.
©2011 Silver River Productions and Lucy Worsley (P)2012 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"Who could not be enthralled by the history of toilet paper? Anyone who lives in a home with a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom will delight in reading this history of the development of home life." ( Kirkus)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Marie on 07-06-12

Bill Bryson did it better

I found this book irritating. For one it comes across as a compilation of different articles written at different times, because she will mention one tidbit as myth and then later, mention that same bit of information as truth. This was the case with Anne of Cleaves. I studied this period in college and was amazed someone with a PhD would do something so silly. Not just once but at least twice dragging out contradictory information. Secondly, it seemed a little too focused on the aristocracy and their homes. Some mention would be made about the middling and lower classes, but this seemed to be more of a history of the homes of the royal and wealthy.
The narrator has a limited range when capturing voices of other persons/characters when quoting. She gives you enough to know that it is a quote, but no so much that it seems to capture the person. Otherwise, she was ok with the straight reading. If you are determined to buy this listen to the sample and imagine listening to 8 hours of it.
Lastly, this book had me yearning to listen to Bill Bryson's 'At Home' again, which I found to be far more entertaining.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Kirsten on 06-05-12


Lucy Worsley???s book is meticulously researched and yet quite engaging and easy to follow. It might sound hard to believe, but the material is truly interesting and thought-provoking. I finished it in two days because I could not put it down. If you like slightly quirky facts to fuel your water-cooler chat, this book is for you.

On the downside, the narrator had a strange sort of hook in her voice that was distracting to me, and I wasn???t fond of her attempts at various accents. However, it wasn???t so distracting as to take away from the overall content. Although not really a downside, the other thing that I wish I???d known when I bought this book is that it is highly England-centric. There is very little information about the rest of Europe or the East.

All in all, this was a satisfying, fascinating and informative look at the way our lives and social structures have been shaped by our living spaces and vice-versa. I think it will appeal to history buffs, Anglophiles and eclectic fact-lovers alike. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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