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If Walls Could Talk: An intimate history of the home Paperback – 5 Jan 2012


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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (5 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571259545
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571259540
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr Lucy Worsley is Chief Curator at Historic Royal Palaces, the charity which looks after the Tower of London, Hampton Court Palace, Kensington Palace, the Banqueting House in Whitehall and Kew Palace in Kew Gardens. (Yes, this is a fabulous job, but no, you can't have it. Bribes have been offered, and refused.)

Her first paid employment after studying history at Oxford was at a minor stately home called Milton Manor, near Abingdon, where she fed the llamas. After that she became an Inspector of Ancient Monuments at English Heritage, doing historical research at Bolsover Castle in Derbyshire: this led to her first book, 'Cavalier', about a dissolute Royalist duke. Her work as a curator at Kensington Palace led to 'Courtiers', and taking part in a BBC TV series on the history of houses resulted in her most recent book, 'If Walls Could Talk, An Intimate History of the Home'.

Do please visit www.lucyworsley.com for lots more information, and for Lucy's blog.

Product Description

Review

'Fascinating history ... it is very useful to have these histories of different purposes brought together under one banner ... highly accessible.' -- The Herald >> 'Almost every page contains [a] diverting nugget. Worsley is like a larky tour guide, whirling us round the seedier corridors of the royal palaces ... it's all terrific fun.' -- Bee Wilson, Sunday Times >> 'Anecdotes, jokes and fascinating facts come thick and fast ... Worsley's eye for quirky detail is so compelling that you quickly find yourself gripped by the most unlikely subjects ... a very enjoyable beginner's guide to British domestic life.' -- Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday >> 'This book has an excellent title.If Walls Could Talk hints at saucy intimacies and salacious secrets - and the reader (blushing, if male), isn't disappointed ... I was glued.' -- Clive Aslet, Country Life >> 'She is almost school-teacherly, but has a naughty twinkle in her eye and a talent for self-deprecating personal intervention that allows her book to wear its learning lightly ... engaging.' --Stella Tillyard, Daily Telegraph

'It all works. From the plethora of detail emerges Worsley's overarching point, which is that "every single object in your home has its own important story to tell".' -- Observer Paperback of the Week >> 'Fascinating intimate history.' --Daily Telegraph

Book Description

If Walls Could Talk: An intimate history of the home, by Lucy Worsley, is a fascinating look at how people really lived, loved and died over the centuries, by the acclaimed historian and author of Courtiers: The Secret History of the Georgian Court and Cavalier: The Story of a 17th-Century Playboy.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By jenniferangeline on 31 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
If Walls Could Talk is a hugely enjoyable book, as equally informed as funny. The author pulls back the curtains and leaves the bedroom door open with relish.

Lucy Worsley's history of the home reveals how much domesticity has changed - or in some cases stayed the same - over the past 500 years. The bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room are used as stages for all manner of historical personages (Henry VIII, Pepys, Queen Victoria) to make their entrances and exits.

Sex, hygiene, science and tradition are also all put under the microscope. One can either read this book in great, delicious chunks or, such are its small chapters, If Walls Could Talk is, fittingly perhaps, an ideal loo book.

Am greatly looking forward to the forthcoming TV series - and I only hope the programmes contain half as much information and humour as this treasure trove of a book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bearsome on 12 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the book, but not as much as I thought I would. Lucy Worsley's writing style is very casual, perhaps correct for this subject, but being relatively young, she really should check out her facts before putting her thoughts in writing. Her idea that children really weren't the centre of families until the 70s is total nonsense. My sister and I were chidren of the 50s, children of working-class parents, living in a mid-terrace house. When I was 11 years old, we moved into our own bedrooms with new furniture, so I think my sister and I were certainly the centre of the family!

It was a huge shame that pictures were constantly referred to as 'plate number ...', when the plates weren't numbered at all, and weren't even in the order they were mentioned in the text.

A good book, but could have been better.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By S Riaz HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 April 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is relevant to every single person as it looks at the intimate history of the home - focusing on the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. The book accompanies the television show of the same name, which is equally enjoyable; Lucy Worsley being as engaging as a presenter as she is as an author. I always enjoy her books and The Courtiers and Cavalier: A Tale of Chivalry, Passion, and Great Houses are also available on kindle.

There are so many fascinating facts in this book that it is impossible to list them. If you have any interest in why your house is the way it is and how the rooms in it developed, then this is a must read. The bathroom was the last to appear, but they have all evolved over time, especially in terms of privacy. There is also lots of great details about how our lives have changed along with our homes - we no longer expect to give birth or die at home, except in rare cases, for example - these events having been taken over by hospitals. Worsley discusses both the huge events of our lives and the small details. Highly enjoyable and, with short chapters, a book anyone can dip into and discover an interesting fact about the home and our history. Highly recommended, as are all her books. She's a wonderful author and this is popular history at its best.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By kezza883 on 12 April 2011
Format: Hardcover
"If Walls Could Talk" is the third book by Lucy Worsley that I have read and I was certainly not disappointed. Hugely enjoyable, it is a towering achievement by a great historian. Lucy has produced a work of staggering detail but it is so beautifully written that this reader had no difficulty coping. As in her previous books, one is dazzled by the depth of her research and knowledge of her subject, but drawn into the stories by her intimate style of writing. It is as if one is catching up on the latest gossip with an old friend. What separates Lucy from many other historians for me is the way she manages to balance gravitas with humour. This book had me laughing aloud - a first for a history book. The one problem with her books is that one does not want them to end and is left waiting (impatiently) for the next fix! The television series will go some way to helping. Dr Worsley is rapidly becoming THE historian of her generation. I cannot recommend this book and everything else she has written highly enough.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful By T.M. on 31 Mar. 2011
Format: Hardcover
I didn't want this book to end (indeed my one small criticism would be that we didn't get shown around the garden). The author's warm wit and encyclopaedic knowledge of her subject make this an original and enjoyable work of popular history.
The history of the home is married to that of the story of the nation, as the author uses the bedroom, kitchen, bathroom and living room as prisms by which we can also view broader topics (such as sex, female emancipation, scientific progresss and the lives of royalty and servants alike).
The publishers should also be congratulated for furnishing the book with such gorgeous colour plates.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Adrenalin Streams on 29 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover
Lucy Worsley's book concentrates on the home's four principal rooms, namely, the bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchen. Her history of these rooms spans about eight hundred years and is split into multiple mini-chapters of around five to ten pages. The topics covered vary enormously but are nearly always fascinating. As an example, the history of the bedroom includes accounts of the bed, being born, sickness, sex, what to wear in bed, sleeping with the king, a history of sleep, and even the historical dangers of being murdered in bed. The author's style is eminently readable and she always finds something interesting to say that throws light on and makes sense of the way our ancestors lived their lives. By writing short chapters Worsley also makes this an easy book to read in bite sized pieces, although actually the subject matter is sufficiently stimulating to tempt the reader into devouring large chunks at a time. Anyone who is interested in learning more about the history of the domestic home will find this both an informative and enjoyable read.
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