Gillian Tindall

Through the Keyhole

The Meaning of Home


Frances Lincoln 192pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

This little book turns out to be full of information and ideas that transform it into something, as estate agents would say, surprisingly spacious. Edwin Heathcote is the architecture and design critic of the Financial Times, and you feel that the book has been packed with half a lifetime’s cogitation, much of it recondite, on what our homes actually are, in our own minds and also in tradition, myth and inherited expectation. We are not three pages into the introductory chapter when he is already enlightening us on the parallels between the house and the Greek alphabet – the second letter of which, beta, derives directly from beth, ‘house’, which survives in Hebrew. Delta, the upper case of which is a triangle, represents a door (delet in Hebrew), epsilon a latticed window, and so forth. How could we ever have doubted or simply not known it? And how come Jung’s famous characterisation of the layered human psyche as a house, with the collective unconscious always in the basement, has not been consciously in our minds as we pop around our own houses, which are but feeble and inescapable replicas of so much that has gone before?

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'One of the reasons for its longevity is that it has virtually nothing to say about science and technology at all,… ,
    • 'The characters in many of these stories are trapped in the obsessive present tense of their own thoughts; in the m… ,
    • 'Libraries, for much of their existence, have embodied in microcosm many of the characteristics of the totalitarian… ,
    • 'Moss and Cynthia buy several properties through which to launder their ill-gotten gains, take lots of drugs, have… ,
    • 'Never mind the imperial cult. This is the cult of Boris. What happened to Rome?' From the LR archive:… ,
    • Thirty-two years ago this month, we published Muriel Spark's short story, 'A Playhouse Called Remarkable' Read it… ,
    • Time travel, bicycles and white horses populate @WomackPhilip's roundup of children's books by @marcussedgwick,… ,