• If Walls Could Talk

  • An Intimate History of the Home
  • By: Lucy Worsley
  • Narrated by: Anne Flosnik
  • Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Americas
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars (281 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

Why did the flushing toilet take two centuries to catch on? Why did medieval people sleep sitting up? When were the two "dirty centuries?" Why did gas lighting cause Victorian ladies to faint? Why, for centuries, did rich people fear fruit?In her brilliantly and creatively researched book, Lucy Worsley takes us through the bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchen. She covers the history of each room and explores what people actually did in bed, in the bath, at the table, and at the stove-from sauce stirring to breastfeeding, teeth cleaning to masturbation, getting dressed to getting married-providing a compelling account of how the four rooms of the home have evolved from medieval times to today.

©2011 Silver River Productions and Lucy Worsley (P)2012 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Who could not be enthralled by the history of toilet paper? Anyone who lives in a home with a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom will delight in reading this history of the development of home life." ( Kirkus)

What listeners say about If Walls Could Talk

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling.

Lucy Worsley???s book is meticulously researched and yet quite engaging and easy to follow. It might sound hard to believe, but the material is truly interesting and thought-provoking. I finished it in two days because I could not put it down. If you like slightly quirky facts to fuel your water-cooler chat, this book is for you.

On the downside, the narrator had a strange sort of hook in her voice that was distracting to me, and I wasn???t fond of her attempts at various accents. However, it wasn???t so distracting as to take away from the overall content. Although not really a downside, the other thing that I wish I???d known when I bought this book is that it is highly England-centric. There is very little information about the rest of Europe or the East.

All in all, this was a satisfying, fascinating and informative look at the way our lives and social structures have been shaped by our living spaces and vice-versa. I think it will appeal to history buffs, Anglophiles and eclectic fact-lovers alike. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Too scatological for my taste

I was disappointed with this book. I expected quirky historical facts, maybe told with some offbeat humor, but what I got was a book that dwelt on the most basic bodily functions. Like some kind of British version of a high school fart joke. I wish I'd listened to other reviewers.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Never Look At Your Own Home the Same Way Again

Sometimes the missing link between history and our appreciation of it is that personal touch. Names and dates are all well and good, but cause and effect mean so much more. In this way we see how things evolve from then to now. With this book, the appreciation of history is all about appreciating just how good you've really got it by comparison of your ancestors. After reading this book, I defy you to willingly allow farm animals to sleep in your living room floor at night, and I challenge you to believe that life would be better off if your kitchen and/or personal relief facilities were detached from your house, especially in times of bad weather. This and SO much more is explored herein. Most of what we know to be common features of the home are relatively new, and understanding the way things used to be paints a better understanding of what it was like to live in earlier times. After listening to this, I certainly feel like a king in my own castle.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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So very interesting, but...

I found this book so very interesting, but unfortunately the narrator was a problem: her voice is wonderful— for a lullaby reader! I had to keep repeating parts, because her wonderfully soothing voice kept putting me to sleep! Middle of the day, full daylight: I wake up half an hour later!
She would be a wonderful reader for children’s bedtime stories! Her talents are not put to good use in this story, for real.
The book in and of itself is a treasure for all us peepers into the corners and closets of prior centuries. Loved it!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Great book, poor reading

If you could sum up If Walls Could Talk in three words, what would they be?

If you like history, and the odd anecdotes that make it really fascinating, this book has it in spades. It does wander off its core path to explain historical minutiae, but that is part of the fun. Also, it is told from a very British point of view that may be a touch jarring to an American reader.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

The narrator had a very high, quiet, breathy voice that I do not prefer for Audiobooks. Also, she was terrible with accents. Her German, Russian and Arabian were identical, and her American was not even as close as I have heard British comics using as jokes.

Any additional comments?

The Author debunks several common misunderstandings about the origins of certain words and phrases that 'everyone' thinks they know the true story on.

3 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Bill Bryson did it better

I found this book irritating. For one it comes across as a compilation of different articles written at different times, because she will mention one tidbit as myth and then later, mention that same bit of information as truth. This was the case with Anne of Cleaves. I studied this period in college and was amazed someone with a PhD would do something so silly. Not just once but at least twice dragging out contradictory information. Secondly, it seemed a little too focused on the aristocracy and their homes. Some mention would be made about the middling and lower classes, but this seemed to be more of a history of the homes of the royal and wealthy.
The narrator has a limited range when capturing voices of other persons/characters when quoting. She gives you enough to know that it is a quote, but no so much that it seems to capture the person. Otherwise, she was ok with the straight reading. If you are determined to buy this listen to the sample and imagine listening to 8 hours of it.
Lastly, this book had me yearning to listen to Bill Bryson's 'At Home' again, which I found to be far more entertaining.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly good!

I enjoyed this much more than I expected to. I'm not sure why I chose it initially, and it did sit in my queue for a couple weeks before I decided to give it a shot, but once I got into it I was enthralled. I was genuinely sorry when it was over. I really learned a lot and hugely enjoyed the narration. I will definitely go back and listen again.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Horrible narration ruined the book

My header says it all. Lucy Worsley is a wonderful writer & her research & knowledge are on full display in this book. Sadly, the narration is awful. It sounds like some strange automated robotic recording and not as if a real person were reading to you. I never leave nasty reviews but this narration was so offensive to my ears I feel compelled to warn others!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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My thoughts.

Wonderful reading of historical facts about events and life in the times. I would recommend to anyone who is interested in the subject.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Bill Bryson's At Home is superior

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

I have listened to At Home many times and always learn something new. This book is sort of At Home condensed with Bill Bryson's wit and scholarship.

What was most disappointing about Lucy Worsley’s story?

The book is nonfiction; there is no "story."

How could the performance have been better?

She reads quickly and without inflection.

Do you think If Walls Could Talk needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

no

Any additional comments?

The author expresses as fact her opinions. Was the exhaust fan really the most important development of the 20th century?

3 people found this helpful