The Making of Home: The 500-Year Story of How Our Houses Became Our Homes

Judith Flanders. St. Martin’s/Dunne, $26.99 (368p) ISBN 978-1-250-06735-7

British social historian Flanders (The Victorian City) takes readers on an engrossing tour as she traces the process by which houses—physical structures constructed for shelter and functionality—evolved into homes: the places in which we live, belong, and feel comfortable. Home, according to Flanders, is in part an enduring myth, and in part a state of mind. The concept is wrapped up in a number of related topics, so she delves into social, cultural, technological and historical concepts to recount the development of furniture, heating and lighting, gender roles, and much more. Likewise, Flanders debunks a number of misapprehensions regarding the “ideal” home and the very nature of family, demonstrating that a great many factors have been at play for centuries, providing a steady rate of change as form followed function. It’s a fascinating, eye-opening examination of just how far we’ve come in five centuries, from the most rudimentary of huts containing virtually nothing, to modern structures filled with furniture, efficiencies, luxuries, and technology. It’s possible to pick out any one of 100 different threads in Flanders’s work and marvel at how they’re all interconnected; you’ll never take a fork for granted again. Illus. [em]Agent: Bill Hamilton, A.M. Heath (U.K.). (Sept.) [/em]