Harry Mount

Keeping Out the Joneses

Cheek by Jowl: A History of Neighbours


The Bodley Head 273pp £20 order from our bookshop

The word ‘neighbour’ dates from the days before the countryside was enclosed, when villagers farmed adjoining strips of common land. A neighbour then was ‘the man who tills the next piece of land to mine’.

These days, you might define neighbour as the person most likely to turn your life into a living hell. And the history of neighbours – as Emily Cockayne reveals in her authoritative if heavy-going book – is really a history of trying to minimise the irritation produced by the people next door.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter