An interesting and well-researched reference on everyday life in London in the mid 18th century, particularly for the poor and middle classes, this book covers everything from housing to medicine to jobs and labor relations to entertainment. It’s minutely organized and indexed, making it very easy to refer back to a particular section; individual sections, however, are quite short, no surprise when the text comes in at under 300 pages for a broad variety of material. I found a number of surprises about the 18th century: at the same time, water was being piped into Londoners’ homes through pipes made of elm buried under the streets (wooden pipes? And we think of water utilities as being a much later development), and convicted criminals might be put in the pillory or whipped through the streets (which sounds downright medieval). This is not a narrative – Samuel Johnson, of Dictionary of the English Language fame, provides a time frame but is only occasionally mentioned – but it should be both useful and accessible to those interested in learning more about the period.
"My Life: J.G. Bennett and G.I. Gurdjieff: The Memoirs of Elizabeth Bennett" is an incomplete memoir by the author. It spans from her formative years as the daughter of a house master at Eton College, the health challenges she faced as a little girl and adolescent, the 5 years she spent in service with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) during the Second World War, to her meeting with J.G. Bennett near the end of the war --- a man 20 years her senior best described as far-seeing in thought, attitude, and action, with whom she would later share her life and bear him 4 children -- and the charismatic mystic and teacher G.I. Gurdjieff.
The memoir is focused more on relating the experiences Elizabeth Bennett had with Gurdjieff in France in the late 1940s (til his death in 1949), as well as with Bennett (whom she referred to as 'Mr. B') through the mid-1950s. There are also numerous color drawings made by Elizabeth Bennett herself during various phases of her life (she passed away in August 1991 from cancer; she was 72) and what loose ends there are in the memoir are filled in by her 2 sons. On the whole, this is a very readable book, written in a very honest, straightforward manner.