Ideal for browsing or for reference, this book is let down only by its inability to cover everything and by some difficulty in finding precise details within it. However, for a general guide to the society of the Victorian Age, this is not only excellent, but also entertaining. In fact, while this is primarily intended as something to look up to aid understanding of Victorian fiction, I happily read straight throught the initial essays section without finding it dry or tedious. This is definitely aimed at the general reader, rather than the academic.
For similar, if more focussed, coverage of later Victorian fictions, I would recommend The Bedside, Bathtub and Armchair Companion to Sherlock Holmes by Dick Riley and Pam McAllister.