What does ‘home’ mean? Home is ‘a state of being, as well as the place where one lives or one’s place of origin’, writes Judith Flanders. The peoples of northwest Europe all have words that distinguish between ‘house’ and ‘home’. Southern Europeans do not. They have no words for ‘home’ (it may just have something to do with the weather). Judith Flanders’s book is about the ‘home’ countries – mainly England and Holland, with forays into France, Germany and the United States – from the Middle Ages onwards.
Her book is challenging, ‘intended to make the invisible visible’. For example, conventional sources for 17th-century Dutch interiors have been paintings by Vermeer, de Hooch and their contemporaries. Historians have used these paintings as if they were photographs. But reports from travellers and inventories of the period show that those