Not long after finishing the second book in my 50 book challenge, I took a moment to look around the vast expanse of my well stocked, recently upgraded, fully modernized home in order to appreciate the assemblage of conveniences that we so take for granted. In If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley, the reader is taken on a journey through time, revisiting the most used rooms in our homes and how they came to be in our current world of convenience and excess. The author, Dr. Lucy Worsley, is a British historian with intimate knowledge of all things royal and historically juicy. She is a true storyteller who enthusiastically brings the past alive.
I discovered several of Dr. Worsley’s BBC series’ on YouTube last summer and became an instant fan. She not only delves deep into the lives and historical significance of royal families and aristocrats, but also makes learning such information ridiculously addictive and fun. If Walls Could Talk was the first book by Dr. Worsley that I had the pleasure of reading. Truth be told, I was very anxious to get my hands on a copy. I have come to greatly appreciate the humour and insight she provides when it comes to telling stories of the past. In this particular book, Dr. Worsley focuses on the careful examination of the ways in which the four most celebrated rooms in our homes today – the bedroom, the bathroom, the living room, and the kitchen – came to be in there modern design and usage.
I absolutely loved this book and read it quite quickly. I learned so much – from the origin of desserts to why the flushing toilet took 200 hundred years to catch on. Each chapter forced me to stop and look at our everyday items and modern conveniences with a different set of eyes. No longer were objects simply objects, but windows into our story of human evolution. Dr. Worsley provides detailed explanations (backed by extensive research) of how the specific features and uses for each of these four rooms has progressed and morphed since the 16th century – all in conjunction with the attitudes we have developed towards their importance in our lives.
I definitely recommend this book to any history buff, and not necessarily of just the British variety. If Walls Could Talk is essentially a history book for the masses as it sheds light on the several hundred year exploration we, as a society, have made in order to establish clear boundaries around the most intimate and memorable moments in our lives.
You may never look at your toilet the same way again.
Next up on the book shelf: Seven Life Lessons of Chaos by John Briggs and F. David Peat