Jonathan Lopez's Reviews > If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home

If Walls Could Talk by Lucy Worsley
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's review
Feb 28, 12

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bookshelves: architecture, design
Read in February, 2012

In Gilbert and Sullivan's "Iolanthe" (1882), the insomniac Lord Chancellor struggles mightily to get comfortable in bed. "First your counterpane goes and uncovers your toes, and your sheet slips demurely from under you," he laments. "You're hot, and you're cross, and you tumble and toss till there's nothing 'twixt you and the ticking."

Victorian slumber accessories—counterpanes, coverlets, eiderdowns, canopies—can seem bewildering to modern eyes, unaccustomed to the lace and velvet that once adorned nearly every surface of a well-appointed bedroom. But the furnishings of a bygone day can reveal much about the people who used them—or, as historian Lucy Worsley observes in "If Walls Could Talk," a charming, fairly light chronicle of British private life since the Middle Ages: "Every single object in your home has its own important story to tell."

As chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces, the nonprofit foundation that maintains and operates Hampton Court, Kensington Palace and other sites, Ms. Worsley has become a familiar face on television, creatively guiding viewers through the lifestyles of the notable and long dead...

The rest of my review is available at the website of The Wall Street Journal:

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