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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Victorian London - 1840-1870 - Liza Picard, 22 Feb. 2010
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This review is from: Victorian London: The Life of a City 1840-1870 (Paperback)
Liza Picard opens up this book To Londoners, but I can safely add to history lovers, tourist and anyone fascinated with this Victorian era for the years of 1840-1870 there is simply a wealth of information about the social everyday life of Londoners. For all modern day Londoners living the life no need to look down at the pavement on your daily drudge to work because after reading this book you may look up and have thoughts of enlightenment and wonder. This era gives you an account of how you came to travel the underground so next time you hear that automated voice over at the station "This train is delayed, due to the previous train being delayed.. and so on" for clarification, the delay started back in the 19th century. Victorian buildings you may pass were a base from which a great idea was formed, everything is right before our very eyes, this book welcomes us back to a fascinating city.

I'm firstly going to bring everyone into the lay out and expectations when reading through. Incredibly researched, primary sources have been used but its been investigated much much further for detail. Its then I would say been divided into themed references and then themes form chapters, each broken down into many small sub-sections. Themes: Buildings, the river, the streets, working, middle, upper classes and royalty, domestic service, poverty, railway, Crystal Palace at Sydenham, Great Exhibition, health, fashions, language, food, and so on. Theme example: Under Practicalities: The postal services, subs: the stamp introduction, letterboxes, post offices when the first uniforms were worn and fashion ect ect. This builds up an image in the mind, of people, a place, an area and a sense of time in an observant way. Letters left behind of those times which is about real peoples lives, voices from all walks of life, at the workhouses, a ladies maid, the upper class as they sit down to dinner or a butler who kept a diary for a year noting his daily grind. These voices form and produce a much more vivid picture as we follow through the book.

Smell: Pick the worst smell you can think of and hold that thought because that is the odor you'll be walking around London with before a sewerage system was devised. Once the sewers were in place the book explains in detail the trails and tribulations, first problems it caused water pipes and sewers were run to close together and how the matter was resolved, the huge overhaul, which saved lives. We then go on to costs, how much to have a lavatory installed, the flush system that were put into a middle class family home. It made for a dramatic change to a bustling city and an idea used in others cities around the world.

1840 -1870 the dwellers of London were thriving with new ideas and invention during the Victorian age these were the years London was ripped apart to make way for railway lines and stations even showing the first congestion of traffic as London came to a stand still while this upheaval took place but again the outcome, it generated work or allowed people in every day life to travel to locations they had only heard of. A man named Thomas Cook set up a business venture in 1841 and made his first deal with the railways, trips were organized in groups and were made cost effective. known in those days as the Thomas Cook Excursions in 1851 he was a successful entrepreneur making it possible for people to travel far and wide, he was prepared at affordable prices to let many see with their own eyes the Great Exhibition.

Liza Picard has added a sense of humor everywhere in this book from mens latest fashion in beards and dress entire, hat problems at the opera or ladies fashion problems when getting on the omnibuses. We are also given a crash course by leaflets issued at that time on the art of fainting, corsets being tight to the point of not breathing, "make sure there's a couch behind you if you feel you must faint, we can't always rely on a gentleman to lunge and catch". The Marriage certificate was framed and used to decorate the wall at home in the 1850's...... how many would go up if that came back into fashion today?

We go into schools looking at education, we also look at religion, places for amusement, prisons, crime, punishment even death and cemeteries the information is plenty and sometimes surprising. This books recreates the industries, inventions and London life with all its many sides, splendor, misery, cruelty, vices or pleasures all the while keeping it entertaining you also have illustrations showing this extraordinary age. I can honestly say I learnt much from this book and thoroughly enjoyed every minuet. Congratulations Liza Picard has my attention and I will be looking at other books written.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in this History era

Andrea Bowhill
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