This is again an extremely full meal as a reading experience, though because of the uniformity of the culture - it does not involve such a fundamental transition as that from paganism to Christianity - it is somewhat less rich than the first volume though equally massive.
Nonetheless, there are huge changes going on: at the start of the Gothic era, there was an explosion of availability of materials on private life. Suddenly there were memoires, fiction, more realistic painted portraits (capturing real character and not just stylized), and sturdier surviving architecture, all of which offer a far more accurate picture of the times than was available during the dark ages. Piecing all of this together is utterly fascinating, as the reader is treated to detailed analyses of the costumes, customs, eating habits, and concerns that are reflected in them. You can get a wonderful idea about the texture of everyday life, though more from the standpoint of aristocrats than more common people.
Unfortunately, due to the overall goal of the writing on private life, the reasons behind these bigger changes are scarcely mentioned and hence little analyzed. While my disappointment of this reflects my own ignorance of the history of the period, it might also serve as a warning to non-specialists who want to know more. THe only chapter I found dull was a very very long one on the common themes of literary sources.
That being said, the book covers written sources, archaeology, and art extremely well: they seem to have been converging on the emergence of the "individual" that occurred just prior to the Renaissance. It is an amazingly interesting story. Indeed, there are so many strands in all of this that I found myself in awe of a period of history that I heretofore saw as far more uniform, as a precursor to the modern era or a disappointing sequel to the astonishing unity and sophistication of the classical era.