By Nadia Chantler
Book review on At Home by Bill Bryson
I have been a fan of Bill Bryson forever and try to read all his books. He has a charming and witty sense of humor and writes mostly non-fiction books on travel, as well as some on history. He can make the driest subject seem interesting.
This book is about the history of homes. Using his own home as a jumping-off point, he goes through each of the rooms, revealing all sorts of interesting facts. His own home is a 200-year-old vicarage, which brings him to the clergy of the day being fairly well-paid with time on their hands, consequently contributing to a period of invention. He starts in the hall and then continues through each room of the house, discussing the origins of the rooms, their furnishings, and any technological advancements. For instance, there were no second floors until fireplaces came into use in the 14th century, as smoke from the central hearth would fill the roof space. Bryson also shows us how room usage has changed over time. For example, the hall derives from the Great Hall where everybody used to live and sleep. With the introduction of second floors, new rooms arose, as did the concept of privacy. Thus the hall was relegated to what it is now. He often goes off on tangents, but that just adds to the charm.
This is super good read if you are interested in obscure facts and minutia.
Nadia Chantler works in Mobile Services and is currently reading Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott. Available in the following formats: