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Private Lives Australians at Home Since Federation
written by Peter Timms
Miegunyah Press | ISBN 9780522855029
Paperback – 259 pages
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In Private Lives: Australians at Home since Federation, Peter Timms traces the revolutionary changes that have transformed domestic life over the past hundred years or so. Privacy, security, comfort and happiness have always been the ideals people have striven for. Yet what we think they are today, and the ways we try to achieve them, would have bewildered our grandparents.
Beginning at the front door, Timms explores the suburban dwelling room by room, tracing the evolution of its furnishings and fittings, the technological and social developments affecting its layout and design, and the many ways people have organised their work and leisure activities, be it in a Kings Cross flat in the thirties or an outer-suburban McMansion today.
Five different kitchens are carefully reconstructed, from 1910 to 2007, to map the development of cooking equipment, the rituals of dining, and the revolution in women's work schedules. In the bedroom, Timms looks at everything from mattress fillings and the symbolic role of the bed to changing sex-roles and child-rearing practices. The labour involved in doing laundry a hundred years ago is described in all its hair-raising detail. Plumbing, he says, more than electricity, television or computers, is the most important technological advance of the past two-hundred years.
Witty, irreverent and inventive, full of fascinating information and insight, Private Lives is a sympathetic, but not uncritical, look inside the suburban house that helps to explain why we live the way we do.
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