This novel begins when a woman from a wealthy family and a poor artist meet, fall in love, and marry with parental disapproval in 1930s London. What follows is a narrative of three generations of women in the family today. It’s a lyrical text that seems oddly plotless, just kind of multi-generational vignettes. In fact the title is an interesting choice. All fiction in a sense is about consequences – a protagonist makes a choice and then must respond to the consequences. Yet this book seems to be less about consequences than your typical novel. Anyhow, it’s a short book but it took me forever to complete, so I think that says something.
Author: Bill Bryson
Title: At Home: A Short History of Private Life
Publication Info: Books On Tape (2010), Audio CD
Books Read by the Same Author:
Bill Bryson travels through his English home and uses it as a launching point for this history of the uses of the rooms and the types of things one finds in each spot. It’s something of a cluttered attic of a book (pun intended) with little bits of cultural history, material culture, architecture, and all sorts of odds and ends. To be honest I listened to some of the audio discs out of order and didn’t realize it at first, so linearity is not important to this work. While focusing on the broad topic of the home and private life, the focus of the book tends to stick with British and American history, and while some examples go back to Classical times most of the book is set in the past three centuries with the Victorian Era being Bryson’s favorite. It’s a nice bit of compiled history told with Bryson’s usual wit and insight, although surprisingly his own voice is not as prevalent in this intimate book as it is in his other works.
Recommended books: How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built by Stewart Brand, The Archaeology of Home: An Epic Set on 1000 Square Feet of the Lower East Side by Katharine Greider and In Small Things Forgotten: An Archaeology of Early American Life by James Deetz