By Lucy Worsley
Walker & Company, $27.00, 350 pages
In the book, If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home, author, historian and museum curator Lucy Worsley explores the fascinating social history of various customs and practices of life carried out within the private sphere of the home. Worsley starts with The Bedroom, where, until recently, most people entered the world, and continues on to The Bathroom, The Living Room, and The Kitchen. Each chapter discusses the history and evolution of various aspects of everyday life such as privacy (everyone slept in the same room), childbirth (a communal event), toilet paper (an ‘arsewisp’— a handful of straw), cluttered Victorian drawing rooms (the more ‘stuff’ displayed in a room, the better), and etymology (the word dessert derives from the French word desert, ‘the creation of absence’ of the main course followed by sweets). If Walls Could Talk is a companion book to the popular BBC television series of the same name. However, this book holds its own as a curious and thought-provoking read.
Reviewed by Cheri Woods-Edwin