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 this revealing book, ‘home’ is a relatively new concept. When in 1900 Dorothy assured the citizens of Oz that ‘There is no place like home’, she was expressing a view that was a culmination of 300 years of economic, physical and emotional change. In The Making of Home, Flanders traces the evolution of the house across northern Europe and America from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century, and paints a striking picture of how the homes we know today differ from homes through history. The transformation of houses into homes, she argues, was not a private matter, but an essential ingredient in the rise of capitalism and the birth of the Industrial Revolution. Without ‘home’, the modern world as we know it would not exist, and as Flanders charts the development of ordinary household objects – from cutlery, chairs and curtains, to fitted kitchens, plumbing and windows – she also peels back the myths that surround some of our most basic assumptions, including our entire notion of what it is that makes a family. As full of fascinating detail as her previous bestsellers, The Making of Home is also a book teeming with original and provocative ideas.
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