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62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good background reading for Victorian novels
This is a wonderful work of popular social history about the lives of Victorians. But, rather than the upper classes or the ruling elite, or the working classes, we are taken into the homes of the middle classes. Yes, this is costume drama territory. Flanders introduces us to the archetypal middle class house -- perhaps a prosperous five-storey villa in the city, or a...
Published on 21 Mar 2005 by SAP

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Cross between and 'interesting' read and a 'study' volumn
As an 'oldie' found the print both too small and indistinct. I bought it to satisfy an 'interest' and ot as a study subject and for me it was, coupled with the reading difficulty, a little deep. Nevertheless I found it satisfying.
Published 23 months ago by V. G. N.


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How social history should be written, 10 Oct 2009
By 
John Davison - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (Paperback)
I'm trying to read a book by a university academic on the evolution of the family, a subject which ought to be fascinating, but I find myself re-reading every phrase trying to penetrate the meaning behind the obfuscating verbiage (a bit like that sentence).

Judith Flanders, in contrast, shows how social history should be written: her style is absolutely clear, and she wisely lets the humorous and bizarre (and my goodness there is a lot of this) speak for itself.

I do sympathise, however, with the reviewer who jumped to the defence of the subject matter. I can't quite buy into the idea that every Victorian was living a life of stifling convention and unrelieved discomfort, as I pointed out in a letter to the author:

"I am enjoying my way through The Victorian House, and am presently in the drawing room.

"Two comments:

"I grew up in a Methodist household in the 1950s, and we attended church and Sunday school on Sundays, and played Lexicon with Bible words only on Sunday evenings. The sermons were long and generally dull, but I loved the hymns, and there was no sense of Sunday being a depressing day - on the contrary, I remember it as an oasis of peace and reliability at the end of the week. Above all, it had its own distinct character, just as Saturday was the only day of the week with sport on the BBC, giving the football results an almost mystical significance.

"And whilst the portentousness of Victorian advice books seems amusing to us, I like to think that many Victorians enjoyed interior decoration and architecture for their own sake, and that for every social climber there was a simple soul lost in the beauty of the times."

Update, March 2014: I am reading the book for the second time, and feel, more strongly than ever, this:

Judging the Victorians by the advice books and moral novels churned out in their era is a bit like judging 21st century society by the reality TV show "Big Brother". At the peak of its popularity, Big Brother netted an average 5 million viewers per episode. In other words, more than 90% of the population never watched it. Yet to read the press at the time, you would think it defined how we live and think today.

And are we to believe that the UK in 2014 is a fiercely competitive society, because of the quasi-comic characters battling it out on "Come Dine With Me"?

The reality is that most people live their own lives, and don't care that much what other people think, or what the "experts" say or do.

I am sure this applied to more Victorians than Judith Flanders believes and would have us believe.

As for the accounts of the abuse, exploitation and degradation of servants: it existed and it was terrible, but we know that it was not the whole story, and that many employers were kind, good-humoured and democratic.

So, while thoroughly recommending this book, I would also recommend reading Michael Paterson's "Brief History of Life in Victorian Britain," to get a view of the era that is more generous and more sympathetic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read!, 16 Dec 2011
This review is from: The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (Paperback)
I bought this book to help me to prepare for a role in a new play in which I performed recently set in the Victorian era and entitled 'Death Takes A Lover.'
The book was perfect and informed my role as the cook / 'head' maid brilliantly.It is extremely readable and very comprehensive,particularly as it makes reference to all types of household, from those with one domestic servant to those with a huge staff. As it's organised by the rooms of the house I could dip into this easily:It was in my handbag for the tube journey to the theatre and before I went on stage I would sometimes read a brief extract to further immerse myself into the period! I highly recommend this!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 12 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (Paperback)
This is a most interesting and engaging book. I grew up in a Victorian house and it gives me a new level of understanding of the rooms and their functions. The book shows that the rooms of the Victorian house usually had a single function whereas we have multifunctional rooms. In our house the original kitchen, breakfast room and pantry were made into one room in the 1960s.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good read, 15 Dec 2010
By 
Mr. I. V. Collett (uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (Paperback)
This is a very good read. If a more detailed book is needed look elsewhere. I love reading about the period thus covered and the authors time spent in study is obvious. For readers looking for an easy but sound insight into the culture and sensibilities of this period, this book is excellent. The style of writing lends it's self to a coffee table or bedside position, for reading at one go, chapter by chapter or a casual page by page. An excellent present or just a good bookshelf 'keep for future rereading'. Recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great piece of writing, 28 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (Paperback)
Describing the marriage bed to the death bed and all in between. Encompassing the lives of the 'women' who ran the homes of Victoirian Britian and the house itself. The walls hide an enchanting description of those who lived then. A must buy for anyone interested or researching Victorian England.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories, 16 Jun 2013
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This review is from: The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (Paperback)
This was part of a christmas present for my daughter who loves anything to do with Victorian era especially in the home
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well recommended, 1 April 2013
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This review is from: The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (Paperback)
Fabulous book filled with interesting information. I was totally absorbed. Definitely for lovers of the Victorian era and for people, like me, wanting to decorate a dollhouse true to a specific time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great window into the Victorian house, 24 Jan 2013
By 
Bee of Good Cheer (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (Paperback)
I thought this book was fascinating on so many levels. The author wrote in an accessible and engaging style, the scholarship was worn lightly, and I loved the footnotes.

The attitudes of the Victorians towards women and cleanliness were intriguing and frightening in equal measure - I'm glad I was born in 1969 and not 1869! It's also interesting to see how many of them hang over into the present time.

I only have a couple of criticisms - the book was very London-centric, and middle class biased - although that is perhaps inevitable given the use of documentary sources.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reading this book, 23 Jan 2013
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This review is from: The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (Paperback)
A big book full of information,its not easy to put down,many pictures some I've never come across before,its well worth the money.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging yet scholarly, 11 Jan 2013
By 
Susy Macaulay "Uist Lady" (Outer Hebrides) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed (Paperback)
I loved this book. Judith Flanders has created an academic and scholarly work, yet writes it in the most engaging and page-turning way, with lots of fascinating digressions and asides. You really do get a sense of day to day life in that era, so close to ours, and yet so different. If you're interested in social history and the Victorian age, I can't recommend it highly enough.
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The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed
The Victorian House: Domestic Life from Childbirth to Deathbed by Judith Flanders (Paperback - 2 Aug 2004)
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