Cheek By Jowl: A History of Neighbours

Emily Cockayne

Cheek By Jowl: A History of Neighbours

Neighbours can enrich or ruin our lives. They fascinate and worry us in equal measure. Soap operas watched by millions play with every lurid permutation of relationships in fictional neighbourhoods. One is even called Neighbours. Disputes over gigantic Leylandii and noise nuisance turn nasty and fill newspaper columns. These stories have a rich history — as long as men have lived in shelters, they have had neighbours. In this social history, Emily Cockayne traces the story of the British neighbour through nine centuries — spanning Medieval, Tudor and Victorian periods, two world wars and up to today's modern, virtual world. Cheek by Jowl reveals how neighbour relations have changed over time and maps the complex emotional, sexual and economic threads of association between neighbours. 2.7 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
Cheek By Jowl: A History of Neighbours

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre History
Format Hardback
Pages 288
RRP £20.00
Date of Publication April 2012
ISBN 978-1847921345
Publisher Bodley Head
 

Neighbours can enrich or ruin our lives. They fascinate and worry us in equal measure. Soap operas watched by millions play with every lurid permutation of relationships in fictional neighbourhoods. One is even called Neighbours. Disputes over gigantic Leylandii and noise nuisance turn nasty and fill newspaper columns. These stories have a rich history — as long as men have lived in shelters, they have had neighbours. In this social history, Emily Cockayne traces the story of the British neighbour through nine centuries — spanning Medieval, Tudor and Victorian periods, two world wars and up to today's modern, virtual world. Cheek by Jowl reveals how neighbour relations have changed over time and maps the complex emotional, sexual and economic threads of association between neighbours.

Reviews

The Daily Telegraph

Philippa Stockley

Lively … Cockayne does not marshal her subject particularly linearly, reprising the theme of neighbours falling in love five times which, however interesting, starts to pall. Nevertheless, her conclusions are good. She sees clearly that living conditions in the past were infinitely worse than our own and that close camaraderie served to palliate it.

02/04/2012

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The Guardian

Rosemary Hill

Entertaining but ultimately frustrating … A book about neighbours is potentially about everything. The whole of social and economic history, the rise of feminism, the decline of heavy industry, war, railways, architectural fashion and town planning, all of these and more have affected day-to-day relations at street level. Cockayne nods briefly to most of them but examines none in detail. One fragmentary case study follows another, and we never get much beyond generalisations and anecdotes as she dips haphazardly into the bran tub of potential material.

24/03/2012

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The Literary Review

Harry Mount

Authoritative if heavy-going … Interesting as all these statistics and anecdotes are, Cheek by Jowl too often constitutes a list of these incidents. It is more of an exercise in mass observation than the directed, opinionated, amusing history it might have been. Still, there are moments of original analysis.

01/04/2012

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The Daily Mail

Peter Lewis

Here is a very detailed historical survey of the upside and the downside of neighbouring since about 1300. A lot of it seems to be downside — especially before modern toilet facilities became available … The author is a specialist in noisomeness — she wrote a whole book on Filth, Noise and Stench 1600-1770. I have to admit her diligent research grows steadily less interesting, the cleaner people become.

29/03/2012

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The Sunday Telegraph

John Preston

Exhaustively researched if frustratingly stodgy … Cheek by Jowl ought to sing along. Instead, it reads like an extended thesis with passages of windy theorising and grating jargon. Someone who spots that their neighbour’s blinds are drawn is engaging in “subtle surveillance, where people observe, often without effort, their neighbours’ patterns of activity, allowing them to detect when things are awry”. This seems a terribly verbose way of describing nosiness.

23/03/2012

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The Evening Standard

Gillian Tindall

Not surprisingly, the structure of her book tends to collapse under such a mass of material, most of it not very carefully examined … There is very little on neighbours in literature, and the whole enormous issue of class is largely unexplored … Somewhere inside this book several other books on different, interesting themes are struggling to get out.

05/04/2012

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