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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transports you straight into the eighteenth century!
A couple of pages into Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England, I knew this would be the sort of book I'd keep on my shelf and refer back to again and again over the years. Roy and Lesley Adkins transport you right 'under the eaves' to overhear ordinary people going about their business in 'Jane Austen's England'.

There's a wealth of detail in this book, taking...
Published 18 months ago by JS Newby

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0 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jane Austin
Lovely idea if slightly lacking in vivid anecdotes and observations of the type that bring a time and place to life. But browsing through it a picture builds up and it is based on writings of the time which makes it authentic. Thank you authors.
Published 13 months ago by Sheena Wilson


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Transports you straight into the eighteenth century!, 27 Jun 2013
This review is from: Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England: How our ancestors lived two centuries ago (Hardcover)
A couple of pages into Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England, I knew this would be the sort of book I'd keep on my shelf and refer back to again and again over the years. Roy and Lesley Adkins transport you right 'under the eaves' to overhear ordinary people going about their business in 'Jane Austen's England'.

There's a wealth of detail in this book, taking you from cradle to grave, and explaining all the practicalities of life at the time - never shrinking from the nasty bits (leeches, grim diseases)! Using contemporary diaries and memoirs, the Adkins introduce a cast of real 'characters' - country parson James Woodeford and spinster with a sharp eye for detail, Nelly Weeton.

If you want to discover what life was really like during Jane Austen's lifetime, or you're a dedicated Austen fan looking to delve into the world behind the novels, then this is a gripping read. Historians, amateur or otherwise will equally find this a fact-filled, and extremely readable introduction to a lost world.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating companion and counterpoint to Austen's novels, 20 Jun 2013
By 
Linda S. Collison (constantly roving) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England: How our ancestors lived two centuries ago (Hardcover)
Authors of numerous history books, the Adkins have a knack for finding fascinating first-hand accounts to illustrate history in a vivid way. As they showed us life belowdecks on a British warship in Jack Tar; Life in Nelson's Navy, so do they recreate daily life for the middlin' to poor sort living ashore in the same era.

"Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England" gives us a look at the everyday lives of the people in Jane Austen's world. Using bits of letters, diaries, travel journals, ballads, recipes, court proceedings, newspaper notices and other records, Roy and Lesley Adkins enlighten us with tidbits of English social history -- many of them quite surprising.

Using snippets from Jane's contemporaries the authors shed light on such institutions and customs as marriage, divorce, contraception and extramarital affairs, childbirth and childrearing, food, fashion and hygiene, transportation, education, leisure activities, religion, superstitions -- and death.

Impeccably researched and eminently readable, Eavesdropping on Jane Austen is a book to read from cover to cover -- or to be browsed at random. Highly recommended, along with the book, Jack Tar: Life in Nelson's Navy

Includes maps, notes, bibliography and index.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Social history at its very best., 23 Jun 2013
By 
J. Williamson "msjwkb" (North Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England: How our ancestors lived two centuries ago (Hardcover)
This companion to "Jack Tar: The Extraordinary Lives of Ordinary Seamen in Nelson's Navy", is social and domestic history at its very best, revealing, with much new material and many fresh insights, the day-to-day circumstances, concerns and attitudes prevalent in Georgian England during Jane Austen's lifetime (1775-1817).

Incidents and details from Austen's family history, letters and novels are put in historical context and set against reports and first-hand descriptions from a wide range of contemporary sources. For example, on being taken to court for shoplifting, Austen's aunt had to buy herself a not guilty verdict to avoid deportation, and the author praised the London home of her brother Henry ('It is a delightful place...') apparently unaware that it had a dangerous chimney notorious for trapping boy sweeps in its flue.

Roy and Lesley Adkins' skill in researching, analyzing, juxtaposing and commenting on telling details has created an intriguing and compelling narrative in which our ancestors of two hundred years ago appear both familiar and utterly alien. Young children toiled (and died) in chimneys, mines, factories and on the land; it was legal to kidnap (press) men for the Navy; in middle-class homes the washing was done every five weeks or so, took a week to complete and the washerwomen boarded with the family as did visiting dressmakers; each parish was responsible for the very basic social welfare of its inhabitants; tax had to be paid on everyday staples plus land, windows, houses, male servants, female servants, horses and carts; William Willberforce was campaigning for the abolition of the slave trade abroad whilst vigorously supporting legislation at home to suppress trade unions and the working class.

As Dickens wrote of the period in "A Tale of Two Cities", 'It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.' The Adkins vividly bring out how the great, the rich, the middle sort, the working trades, the country people, the poor, and the miserable of Daniel Defoe's social classes lived in Georgian England, and the extreme and startling differences between them. As today, the people of Jane Austen's England lived with expensive wars, political instability, ever-rising prices and taxes, callous greed and cruelty, great inequality, and the misuse of privilege and public office. Here is a quote of 1795 from the Quaker, William Jenkin: 'I fear some of these great folks look more to their great salaries, Pensions and Synecures than to the real good of the state. If they wish to convince the public that the latter is their chief concern let them in these perilous times make a voluntary sacrifice of a part of their enormous income to the public good; or at least by acts of benevolence lighten the burdens of the lower orders of the people, many of whom now groan under the pressure of the high price of most of the necessaries of life.' If you'd like to know more about Jane Austen's world, buy this book and be amazed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brings the past to life for the modern reader, 24 Jun 2013
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England: How our ancestors lived two centuries ago (Hardcover)
Whilst a lot of people have a romanticised view of this time period, it is often overlooked that during Jane Austin's life we only had 12 years of peace. Yet for many, her work remains the favoured view of the time and to be honest to have an overall look at the time through experts was not only refreshing but also a great way to explore the reality behind the rose tinted version that we all know to some degree or another.

What Roy and Lesley bring to the fore is a book that has not only solid research but also one that takes the reader by the hand bringing the events of the day to the fore in such a way that its not only friendly but also something that is informative without being an infodump. The prose is strong, the overall piece a joy to sit down with and to be honest whilst I was intrigued I was surprised at how much I was drawn into their work. All round a good piece of research. Great stuff.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful insight into the past!, 2 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England: How our ancestors lived two centuries ago (Hardcover)
I am delighted that I found this book - not only for reasons of research for my own novels (expect gleaned bits of information to be used extensively) but this is also a fascinating, intriguing and (in places) amusing read (there are also some details that make me so pleased I live now not then! I'm not sure that I'd like to call on the blacksmith next time I have toothache!)

Highly recommended for anyone interested in 18th century England or Jane Austen. A must have for writers of this period!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A delight on every level, 15 July 2013
By 
A. J. Bond "A J Bond" (East Sussex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I have been looking forward to the Adkins' new book for some while: "Jack Tar" is a classic, likewise "The War for all the Oceans". In fact nothing I have read of theirs has ever failed to inform and entertain, (in roughly equal measure), and this study of the world and social history of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century is no exception.

Divided into sections covering all manner of civilian life, the narrative flows easily encompassing every aspect. And this is not a laboured trudge: the style is light, without being frivolous, making the mass of information easily digestible. Several grey areas that had previously concerned me were addressed, and an informed and detailed understanding of the period given. Contemporary diarists are quoted extensively, as are newspaper reports, editorials and even advertisements, the latter being a delightful inclusion, giving an insight into the commercial world, as well as conveying the aspirations and expectations of people from all levels of society. And it is in this catholic approach that the book is especially valuable; from nobility, through gentry, middling classes, and down as far as common vagrants, every social group is covered in full and fascinating detail.

The book is illustrated with maps, diagrams and monotone images, and comes with a comprehensive index, bibliography and reference notes - essential in a work of this nature. There is also a chronological overview which in itself brings up some interesting facts: George Stevenson was born a year before the last man was hung drawn and quartered, and The Times had been founded and already a popular newspaper when the last woman was burned at the stake. If there was one thing more I would ask for it would be a few colour plates, but this is perhaps a churlish request: the book is extremely well produced, and would make a welcome present for anyone with a feel for the era, or Jane Austen's novels.

All things considered, a truly excellent work; one that can be read for pleasure as much as research, and certain to cement the authors' position as preeminent historians of this period.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 24 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England: How our ancestors lived two centuries ago (Hardcover)
So many things I didn't know about Jane Austen's England - only 200 years in time but sounds like another planet
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Austen's England: The Dark Side, 30 July 2013
This review is from: Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England: How our ancestors lived two centuries ago (Hardcover)
From the cradle to the grave, Austen's England was an era filled with fear, filth and fortitude. Roy and Lesley Adkins' book is a scholarly exploration of the nitty-gritty of everyday life from the point of view of the lower and middle classes: from the perils of childbearing and the horrors of surgery without anaesthetics to the bad breath of Austen's acquaintances. Issues seemingly untouched by Austen's novels are thoroughly examined: child labour in the mines and up chimneys, the 'Bloody Code' (capital punishment), and food shortages. Contemporary illustrations, diarists and writers including the kindly Parson Woodforde,John Byng and governess Nelly Weeton are used to give a window on the grubby realities of travel, food and drink, and servant problems in Georgian England. Austen's novels, life and letters are referenced throughout - 'Eavesdropping on Jane Austen' England' is a satisfying read for her fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An interesting book on socail history, 20 Oct 2013
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This book is very readable. It gives an interesting view on Georgian England. It's about daily life, not politics. It makes reference to many first-hand Georgian accounts of daily life including Jane Austen's letters, various vicars' diaries and letters, and foreigners writing home. It is not a reference book for students of history, but someone interested in social history will be unlikely to be disappointed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Favourite Birthday Present., 15 Oct 2013
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I find it a wonderful window into the past. Very informative. I love it. I now know where the word eavesdropping originated.
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