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review 2019-10-20 21:01
A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England by Monica Hall
A Visitor's Guide to Georgian England - Monica Hall

An interesting short book that gives a lively sense of 18th century England. It’s a little uneven; the chapter on health and medicine is eye-opening and informative, while the one about sports doesn’t even really stick to the time period. The conceit of being a guide for potential time-travelers is cute, but maybe a little too cute; I’m not sure much is achieved by advising readers on which vaccinations to get beforehand. Dr. Johnson's London contains much of the same information, but in a more strictly organized and thorough way. This book has a bit more narrative, informality and humor about it, though, which may recommend itself more to the casual reader.

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review 2018-07-24 17:30
life in Georgian England
Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England - Amanda Vickery

It's about living in Georgian England and what the household politics would probably have been like.  The life and times of people from a few sources, the accounts books (apparently women did the household accounts and the men did the estate books); diaries; merchant accounts and letters mostly.  It was interesting to see where the roots of the tradition of a parlour in Ireland was, and this was where I had problems with the book.  The period traditions were treated as alien things, not things that have echoed down the ages and some of the commentary about furniture failed to see how and why someone might want to, in a house that is largely their husband's, a space of their own, even if it was only a desk.  And where someone might decide to, when faced with someone who didn't respect their space (which would probably have been often in a world where women were regarded as ornaments rather than people) they would have procured things for themselves that would have been seen by the men as wrong to use, whether that was style or size.  A desk suited to a small woman would have been difficult for a large man to use.  I didn't see the author see subversion in these things, or see the widow buy many tea pots because her husband belittle her "tea habit".  Humankind hasn't changed much, just the decorations.

 

The author also attests that yellow isn't seen in heraldry and therefore isn't caught up in symbolism.  Yellow and gold were inter-changable in heralry (for the most part, it's a little more complicated than that but it is largely thus) and were given a lot of the same attributes and two minutes with a reasonable heraldry book would give you this information, hell two minutes with the Heradry Society website and their introduction to Heraldry PDF (page 10) would tell you what you need to know about yellow/gold (sweet they have rules for same-sex marriage crests...https://www.college-of-arms.gov.uk/resources/same-sex-marriages, their wages are a joke and actually if you examine them are the same as they were in 1831 only translated from £Sd to Decimal, I'd much rather be a herald in Ireland than the UK); yes I know too much about the topic.

 

Honestly this is the only way to really test a book, to test what you know against it and then see where there are flaws and then determine if you trust the rest, I don't know any better.

 

It's not a bad read, a little dry in places but interesting to show how people of a different time lived.

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text 2018-07-17 17:30
Reading progress update: I've read 174 out of 368 pages.
Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England - Amanda Vickery

Dear writer,

 

Yellow is known in Heraldry, it's what they call gold.  Of course you wouldn't colour a mundane shield in gold, you paint it yellow and your parchment would have gold, as it still does to this day, ditto for silver and white.  

 

Your friendly proto-herald who has apparently read too much on this topic.

 

 

You know what annoys me?  I have a 2:2 in History (this may be partially attributed to extreme exam anxiety, most of my college exams were sat in the college's sick room).  I graduated in 1994, I apparently know a lot more bits of history that are obscure to so many people, I still read history, and I know so many people with "better" degrees than mine who haven't read much in the topic in years and have forgotten most of it.

 

I really have to find a topic and write somethings about them.  I'm tired of yelling at the TV and books that haven't a clue.

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review 2017-04-02 02:56
Sinclair (Tales of Tooley Street Book 1) - Julia Herdman

As a debut novel, Sinclair boasts the musical language of a practiced craftsman.  The characters are vibrant, each man and woman is lovely, but terribly complex.  Although it is fiction, the struggles of the human heart are illustrated with great care.  James Sinclair is driven by his need for acclaim, only to discover that the love of a good woman suits him fine. Charlotte Leadam is a hard-headed widow, sure she will never love again, only to discover that she has the heart for new romance.  The sinking of the Sherwell, a ship from the East India Company's fleet, sets off a tale about the human capacity to make mistakes, to love the wrong people, and to ultimately find forgiveness in seemingly impossible circumstances.

 

I was enraptured by the multitude of plots that intercepted each other with grace. Much in the same style as the prolific Diana Gabaldon, Herdman made true on her statement to write stories of love while simultaneously introducing characters and story lines one after another.  Written in third person omniscient, the reader is privy to the internal turmoil of all the characters, eliciting, for me at least, a strong affinity with the honorable Frank Greenwood, James Sinclair's loyal companion.  Although the novel is entitled after the dutiful doctor from Tooley Street, Herdman divides her attention among his friends, his relatives, and the neighboring English milieu.  I was surprised that she had not elected to tell the tale in first person, but I was pleased with the final product nonetheless.

 

In conclusion, the story moved at an easy pace, made all the more enjoyable by Julia Herdman's humor and her careful execution of historical fact telling.  I can easily see how further stories may be written to expand on the lives of minor characters like Lucy and the rest of the family at Beverly, Connie and her new role as wife and mother, and William's crush on Alice.  All in all, it's safe to say I'm in need of book two!

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review 2015-11-13 13:25
A look at life in Georgian England
Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England - Amanda Vickery

An Englishman's home, as the saying goes, may be his castle, but three hundred years ago it was becoming so much more. In the 18th century, the English home served as a place in which its inhabitants sought to define themselves through the use of décor. As more people socialized in their homes, their living spaces became venues in which their identity could be displayed for others to see for themselves. The emergence and development of this trend is the subject of Amanda Vickery's book, which analyzes the lives of the men and women of Georgian England by examining the homes in which they lived.

 

In studying Georgian homes, Vickery uses a number of different perspectives. Among her goals is the reintroduction of men into the picture, which she does most notably in her chapter on the homes of bachelors. Yet as she demonstrates, the furnishing and decoration of homes was predominantly a female concern, albeit one often handled in consultation with the men of the household. Such decisions were often mundane, and focused more on simple maintenance rather than grand refurbishment, but all of them reflected the interests of the participants and were shaped by the concept of "taste" that emerged during this period, which charted a path that increasing numbers were compelled to take.

 

Detailed, insightful, and well-written, Vickery's book offers a fascinating examination of life in Georgian England. Because of the limitations of her sources, it is by necessity an examination focused primarily on the upper classes, yet she succeeds in taking account books, ledgers, and other mundane sources to reconstruct their lives, showing the growing importance of home life and the weight contemporaries placed on defining their domestic environment. Her success in unearthing these details and bringing the Georgian world back to life makes this book a necessary read for anyone interested in 18th century England, one that will likely serve as an indispensable study of the subject for decades to come.

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