Having read 'The Perfect King' and become interested in the 14th Century (previously my passion was the Tudor Age)I decided to expand my knowledge of the period by picking out this book purely by chance. It is absolutely rivetting and I completed it in just 2 days. There are so many books on the period, most as dry as dust, but the world comes alive through Mortimer's pen. I do not feel it was 'dumbing down' in any way by writing this as a 'guide book' - quite the contrary. The world truly came alive from page one, and my attention was hooked. Mortimer reaches across the centuries into the hearts and minds of people not so very different from ourselves. We learn about their working lives and their leisure. We find out what they eat and what they wear. We can almost feel the horror of parents as they can only stand and watch their whole families being wiped out by plague. The greatest writers of the period are mentioned, not just Chaucer but other authors such as the Gawain poet, writing such poignant verses with emotions that feel just as relevant today. Not only is it a rivetting read, it is truly a handbook to be read in conjuction with other history books of the period. The past is not something long-dead and buried, but has a life all its own and is why we are who we are. A very easy, fascinating read.