At Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
Reviewed by Jason Koivu
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Well that wasn't very "at home" at all, quite frankly! But hey, it was still good!
In At Home: A Short History of Private Life Bill Bryson, that transient American-Brit, is in England for this look at the house, that thing humans use to keep the rain off their heads. If you've ever gone out for a drive you've probably seen one.
Using the house he bought in the Norfolk area of England (northeast of London), Bryson takes us for a lengthy and meandering tour of each room of the standard home from the cellar to the attic. He also details a few different styles of homes over time and takes in a good deal of history in the bargain...Western history that is, and most of that is specific to the UK and US.
The function, usage, transformation and more of each room is described, occasionally exhaustively. Tangents ensue often and are sometimes longwinded. For instance, while discussing the bedroom Bryson goes beyond sex and sleeping, getting on to the topics of surgical practices and the Plague among other things.
As luck would have it, I'm the sort of person who loves facts, factoids, tidbits, walking encyclopedias, and brainiacs. When someone starts a sentence with "Did you know...", I'm the guy pulling my chair up closer. I am Bryson's perfect audience. Not everyone is, so I expect quite a few readers would be annoyed by the writer's wandering ways, especially house-lovers who aren't necessarily interested in Samuel Pepys' extramarital affairs and who just want to focus on the bloody house for the love of Frank Lloyd Wright!
However, even I have my limits and this is probably my least favorite Bryson book so far, but that's not to say it's bad. It's quite good and I really enjoyed it. The thing is, I REALLY enjoyed the other books of his I've read so far and this one lacks the joy and exuberance of the others. RATING: 3.5
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