Summary: The 500-year story of how, and why, our homes have come to be what they are, from the critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of The Invention of Murder and The Victorian City
The idea that “home” is a special place, a separate place, a place where we can be our true selves, is so obvious to us today that we barely pause to think about it. But, as Judith Flanders shows in her most ambitious work to date, “home” is a relatively new idea.
In The Making of Home, Flanders traces the evolution of the house from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century across northern Europe and America, showing how the homes we know today bear only a faint resemblance to homes though history. What turned a house into a home? Why did northwestern Europe, a politically unimportant, sociologically underdeveloped region of the world, suddenly became the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution, the capitalist crucible that created modernity? While investigating these important questions, Flanders uncovers the fascinating development of ordinary household items–from cutlery, chairs and curtains, to fitted kitchens, plumbing and windows–while also dismantling many domestic myths.
In this prodigiously researched and engagingly written book, Flanders elegantly draws together the threads of religion, history, economics, technology and the arts to show not merely what happened, but why it happened: how we ended up in a world where we can all say, like Dorothy in Oz, “There’s no place like home.”
Angie’s comments: I loved this book! Where else would I learn that hallways were invented based on the outside passages in monasteries? I never even thought that the concept of hallways had to be invented. And I also learned that paintings of rooms or houses in the past are just like the pictures in decorating magazines today – touched up and far beyond the average person’s reach. Recommended for history fans.