Billy Bryson’s AT HOME, is a charming rambling essay about the places where we live and how they got to be that way. The book is organized into nineteen chapters. The first two THE YEAR and THE SETTING serve as an introduction, orienting the reader to what was going on in England in 1850-51 (the year Bryson’s house in Norfolk was built) and a potted history of cities. The following 17 chapters each name a room in the house: THE HALL, THE KITCHEN, THE SCULLERY & LARDER, ending up with THE ATTIC. And each one is an opportunity for a disquisition on how they came to be. For example THE DINING ROOM talks about spices, and how come salt and pepper shakers are much more common than say, coriander and nutmeg shakers. THE SCULLERY & LARDER is an excuse for a disquisition on servants, and how badly they were treated. THE DRESSING ROOM is an excuse for Bryson’s opinions on fashions. And THE BATHROOM is an opportunity to talk about sewage.
I should point out that this book is not for the faint-of-heart. Bryson is a talented writer, capable of vivid descriptions, so if you are one of those people with a sensitive stomach, you might not want to read this book just before or just after eating something. The chapters on THE BATHROOM, the BEDROOM, the DRESSING ROOM and the NURSERY have especially graphic descriptions.
–Cynthia Haggard writes novels. She is currently seeking representation for ONE SEED SOWN, TWO MURDERS REAPED, the Richard III story told from the point of view of his mother. For more on her creative writing, go to spunstories. (c) 2011. All rights reserved.