Encyclopedic in scope, imaginative in execution, this illustrated volume surveys and summarizes the aims and achievements of American and European interior decoration during a century marked by technological inventions (plumbing, lighting, etc.) and the launching of design as a bona fide art and craft. Historian Gere divides the book into two parts: the first discusses 19th-century buildings (town houses, country houses, conservatories, cottages); the second leads the reader chronologically through the period. Such range in time and place may be dizzying for the uninitiated--English drawing rooms and Neapolitan salons rub shoulders, and the impact of English designer William Morris on Australia is covered. The author marshals documentary photographs, paintings and prints to suggest not only the look of an overstuffed Victorian studio, but the feel of actress Sarah Bernhardt's slinky Moorish-style boudoir. Gere evokes--drawing often on the writings of 19th-century witnesses--as well as analyzes. Interior Design Book Club featured selection; Country Homes & Garden Book Club alternate .