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Everything but the kitchen sink!

  • Sep 13, 2010
  • by
Bill Bryson is a Renaissance man for our time. His books always seem to cover a myriad of subjects, no matter what the main object of the book is designed to cover. In this latest book, he moves through the old parsonage he and his family live in in the English countryside, and uses that building as the launching point for a history, not only of houses, but of each individual room within a house.

The book not only covers that particular subject, but it goes into a myriad of other subjects, even if their connection with houses is only tangential. We learn about prehistorical eras, delivery of children by forceps, operations without anesthesia, the invention of the cotton gin, and so many other topics that, if I mentioned them all it would make this review so lengthy that no one would read it.

All that I can say is that this book is completely fascinating, and I learned more than I expected to about a whole host of subjects. If you like a well-written book that also tells you many things that you did not know, read this book avidly and I'm sure that you will enjoy it as much as I did.

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review by . February 17, 2011
   I've occasionally reflected on the pace of change during the 20th century, but in this "short history of private life," Bill Bryson makes a convincing case that the magnitude of change may have been more striking during the 100 years preceding it. Domestic life as we know it today didn't really exist until pretty recent times, and Bryson explores its development via a room-by-room ramble through a 19th-century English country home - the former parsonage he lives in …
review by . October 26, 2010
Even more than his boundless curiosity and wit, or his appreciation for the foibles and capacities of human nature, what makes Bryson so much fun to follow as he leads us on a tour of his 19th century English rectory house is the meandering pathway of his thoughts, probing back, back to the nub of things.    He doesn't know much about Mr. Marsham, the rector who built his house in 1851, for instance, but he makes up for that with fascinating snippets about more interesting clergymen. …
review by . October 22, 2010
Bill Bryson is at it again, he is back to telling history from an unique and witty perspective. With "At Home" Bryson wanders through his mid-1800s home and offers a bit about its history. I really do mean, "A bit" because while Bill Bryson begins in a particular room, such as the kitchen, dining rom, and etc. but he rarely stays there long. instead we are taken on tangets throughout history.     We discover the meaning of words (such a "Chairman" and "Room & Board")that routinely …
About the reviewer
Frank J. Konopka ()
Ranked #89
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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Starred Review. Bryson (A Short History of Everything) takes readers on a tour of his house, a rural English parsonage, and finds it crammed with 10,000 years of fascinating historical bric-a-brac. Each room becomes a starting point for a free-ranging discussion of rarely noticed but foundational aspects of social life. A visit to the kitchen prompts disquisitions on food adulteration and gluttony; a peek into the bedroom reveals nutty sex nostrums and the horrors of premodern surgery; in the study we find rats and locusts; a stop in the scullery illuminates the put-upon lives of servants. Bryson follows his inquisitiveness wherever it goes, from Darwinian evolution to the invention of the lawnmower, while savoring eccentric characters and untoward events (like Queen Elizabeth I's pilfering of a subject's silverware). There are many guilty pleasures, from Bryson's droll prose--"What really turned the Victorians to bathing, however, was the realization that it could be gloriously punishing"--to the many tantalizing glimpses behind closed doors at aristocratic English country houses. In demonstrating how everything we take for granted, from comfortable furniture to smoke-free air, went from unimaginable luxury to humdrum routine, Bryson shows us how odd and improbable our own lives really are.
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ISBN-10: 0767919386
ISBN-13: 978-0767919388
Author: Bill Bryson
Genre: Arts & Photography, Home & Garden, Nonfiction
Publisher: Doubleday
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