Biting the Dust: The Joys of Housework

Margaret Horsfield

A witty, erudite and very refreshing look at women’s obsession with cleaning and cleanliness and the history of housework.

Cleaning: even if you don’t do it you have views on it. For this unique book, Margaret Horsfield faces her own cleaning devils and explores the social, historical, psychological aspects of cleaning in all its glory. Three kinds of women (and men) feature in this book: interviewees of the author; historical figures; and fictitious characters from novels and advertising. Here are women who clean their skirting boards with Q-tips, or Hoover the lampshades; a mother who, upon her son’s suicide, shed not a tear, but scoured the kitchen floor with steel wool for three nights running. From media-produced Marigold-wearing stereotypes to Aunt Polly of POLLYANNA, in this book we will repeatedly pause to recognise ourselves. The first ever general study of cleaning,CLEANER THAN THOU may make you squirm, but it will certainly make you laugh.

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