Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Review of 'At Home: A Short History of Private Life' by Bill Bryson

At Home: A Short History of Private LifeAt Home: A Short History of Private Life by Bill Bryson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am not a great fan of non-fiction, particularly of “histories” which inevitably seem to center around wars, whether those wars involve the ancient Greeks or Romans, the American or French Revolutions, the World Wars or more recent conflicts.

What an absolute delight to find an author who looks at history as more than a series of military battles.

Bill Bryson, in At Home, takes us on altogether a different kind of trip through history. Home by home, room by room and century by century, he brings ordinary people to life through their dwellings. It is a fascinating journey, at times witty and humorous, at others, a bit astounding or even horrifying, but it is always compelling. It is every bit as good a read as any piece of fiction I’ve read in recent years. So entertaining is this book that at times I had to stop and remind myself that it is, indeed, history, accurate in every detail, based on meticulous research, as attested to by Bryson’s thirty page bibliography.

I recommend this book to all as a thoroughly entertaining and informative read, and while my intent in this review is to commend this book to general readers, I would be remiss if I did not mention what a great resource it could be for writers of historical fiction.
It has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf.


I currently have three published novels and one short story. I hope you will add them to your reading list and let me know if you enjoy them. Go to my Goodreads page, to find more info and reviewsTo purchase one of these books, just click on the book link below and choose the vendor of your choice.

 • The Memory of Roses ~ The story of a secret and how it impacts two generations of the McQuaid family.  It unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu and is a tale complete with beautiful and passionate women, handsome and fiery men, and an intriguing mystery.

"The Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell is simply an incredibly lovely story. It’s also a love story, and a story about finding yourself, and about closure. The theme running through the book is “all’s well that ends well.”  --  Marlene, Reading Reality

 • Delighting In Your Company ~ Delighting In Your Company is a paranormal romance set on an exotic Caribbean island, featuring a handsome ghost and an adventurous heroine who travels back in time to solve a mystery!

"Delighting In Your Company is a unique paranormal romance that brings together island folklore, history, and mystery with an unlikely romance between the past and present that had me going through a torrent of emotions and made it impossible to put down." -- The Romance Reviews

 • Sonata ~ Sayuri McAllister has just arrived home to Vancouver to find some shocking situations 
~ A robbery has taken place at her family home, and it is being investigated by her old flame;
~ Alyssa James who she barely knows, is about to become her new stepmother; 
~ and Alyssa’s brother, Hugh James, is a charming Irishman who is intent on bedding and wedding the rich and beautiful Sayuri. 

It’s a confusing and difficult time for Sayuri, especially when dangerous accidents happen to her father and herself – or are they accidents?

“I found Sonata to be a charming novel that left me laughing out loud in parts and gnawing nails in others. It was a delight to read.” – Night Owl Reviews

 Abigails Christmas (short story) ~ An enchanting tale of love and romance, with a magical touch of fantasy.
Abigail's Christmas is a holiday story about Abigail who goes looking for a tree on Christmas Eve, and ends up with the man of her dreams in a sleigh in the Rockies --- with a wedding in the offing! Is it real?  Is she dreaming?  Or is it just Christmas magic?

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Blair McDowell