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Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management: Abridged edition (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – Abridged, 12 Jun 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; Abridged edition edition (12 Jun. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199536333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199536337
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 4.6 x 12.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Mrs Beeton was the Delia Smith of her day. Vastly popular in its time, her great Book of Household Management is scarcely read nowadays in its original form (no offence, Delia). This is a pity, since as a result a distorted picture of the author and her work persists, as an oppressive Victorian materfamilias with a decidedly bossy attitude and a tendency to boil vegetables to a grey pulp. The truth, as Nicola Humble demonstrates in her abridgement of the work for the Oxford press, is quite different. Isabella Beeton was in many ways an unusual person. One of 21 children, she lived for part of her childhood in the grandstand at Epsom racecourse, married Sam Beeton, an ambitious young publisher, worked hard as a journalist and translator, and died of puerperal fever (not, sadly, such an unusual fate in her time) at the age of 28. The Book of Household Management grew out of her own sense, as a new bride, of the lack of such a work of instruction and guidance for young women faced with the daunting business of running a home. It is largely a compilation rather than an original work. Its originality lies in its organisation and purpose; its quality arises from the clarity and decisiveness of Beeton's writing. Behind the period details, there is a wealth of common sense.

Nicola Humble provides a scholarly introduction and notes. Gesturing towards academic fashions, she describes the many facets of the book in terms of modes of discourse--which is perhaps a highfalutin way of pointing out the remarkable range of subject matter and the variety of Beeton's sources. The notes entertainingly combine theoretical commentary with often deadpan remarks on the recipes ("Rock biscuits: so-called for their appearance, not their texture"). The recipes themselves are the principal victims of the abridgement, for Nicola Humble's main aim is to present the book as a kind of exhaustive self-portrait of the expanding and aspirational Victorian middle classes. The representative selection that remains, however, are enough to make this a welcome reissue of a fascinating and important book. --Robin Davidson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

The recipes are excellent and there are all sorts of tips that help me save money, time and temper. (Sandi Toksvig, Daily Express)

sold out in Central London book shops within weeks (Red, August 2000)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

134 of 137 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Sept. 2000
Format: Paperback
The vast majority of people assume they are familiar with 'Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management', but those expecting stuffy moralising and instructions to 'first go out and catch your hare' will be disappointed by what they find in Nichola humble's new edition, and probably rightfully so. Written by a comparatively naive girl in her early twenties, who was to die in childbirth a few years later, Beeton's book provides an unparalleled insight into Victorian social customs and domestic situations. It does not so much detail how our ancestors lived and behaved, as how they wanted to be seen to live and behave. In short this book is a vast compendium of social mores, detailing the ins and outs of a wealthy, aspirational society. Though Beeton's book provides a wealth of recipes, these are not her sole concern. The book details codes of conduct in every imaginable social situation, and gives instruction in case of a medical or legal emergencies. Advice to the mistress of the house on how to control servants is placed next to confidential advice to the servants themselves: this is indeed a book aimed at all levels of society. The recipes themselves are a startling mix, as they seem at one moment utterly modern, then at the next evoke a rural british society which was vanishing even as Beeton wrote, in the middle of the nineteenth century. They are also a charming reminder of the fact that the author was neither an experienced nor a professed cook: she frequently omits cooking times and quantities of ingredients! Finally, I would like to mention how important a modern, edited edition of Beeton's book is. The market is swamped with spurious works, such as 'Microwaving with Mrs. Beeton', an example Nichola Humble quotes in her introduction.Read more ›
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Peter on 15 Feb. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
No index, search is terrible (it's not fully indexed), scanned in a manner that makes it incomprehensible and unreadable.

I have a hard-copy facsimile of the original and it's great - but I wish I had a searchable, electronic edition. This isn't it.

Do not waste your money on the kindle edition.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By stigweard on 5 April 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
(This is not a comment on the content of the book, just the format) - Like other Kindle reviewers have said, this is just the free copy, so no investment whatever has gone into making it usable by Amazon. (I have actually seen this happen a couple of times with their free, i.e. out of copyright, ebooks.) I would look elsewhere on the net for a better version - there are loads of sites that distribute out of copyright books with much more precise formatting. I think this may be a mistaken strategy on the part of Amazon - surely the goal is to get people in the habit of using them as a trusted ebook supplier, whether for freebies or otherwise...
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By B. Anderson on 15 Mar. 2004
Format: Hardcover
Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management was the housekeeping bible of the mid-19th century. It was written by one woman, Isabella Beeton, who didn't realize the enormity of her undertaking until after the book was finished. This guide covers all of the most important information for a housewife of the 1800's, from cooking to hiring the help. There is a section on child-rearing, practical home remedies, (including antidotes for various poisons!)cleaning the home and every popular recipe from that time period. Despite the changes in our views of keeping household staff, medicine and eating habits, the book is a remarkable work. It is a must for anyone studying Victoriana, as it demonstrates the rigidity of that time period and the unwavering etiquette. The recipes are difficult to replicate, due to the lack of familiar measurements (one breakfast cupful of milk?)but if you have a adventurous soul, this may be enjoyable. Some of the ingredients are also difficult to find, and an acceptable solution may not be easy.
Read The Book of Household Managemen for it's historical value rather than for it's practical information and it will be an adventure.
The Book of Household Management
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By J. A. Clement on 17 Jan. 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Please be aware that:
1) This review is only relevant for the Kindle version of this book and
2) Normally I don't review anything I haven't read in its entirety - I probably wouldn't stick to that for a household / recipe book anyway, but you should know that I didn't get more than 20 pages into this - and then I deleted it from my Kindle.

Disclaimers aside, the review:
I like Mrs Beeton, partly for useful stuff and partly for curiosity value, but there's no denying the hardcopy is something of a tome, so when I saw there was a kindle version, I downloaded it directly without bothering to look at the sample - BIG MISTAKE!!

There are lots of perfectly workable classics available for free on Kindle and so I didn't think much about it but in this case it was absolutely a case of getting what I paid for.

The text is indeed all there but they've simply scanned it in with no links, table of contents or anything of the sort. The first few pages - I gave up right there - are recipe titles and page numbers - in a hard copy contents in this format are fine but given that Kindle books don't have page numbers, they're worse than useless here. You could possibly use to "Go to" if you knew what location was what but you'd have to tab through it a page at a time to get that information (and believe me when I say you won't get that far).

Furthermore there is no active table of contents which means that you can't tab through the chapters with the four-way button - as far as the kindle is concerned, the whole book is one big block of undivided text.
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