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Customer Review

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A warming, intelligent journey..., 16 Aug. 2011
This review is from: Radio 4's History of Private Life (BBC Radio 4) (Audio CD)
This audiobook was originally a "one episode each week day" radio broadcast, over six weeks on BBC Radio 4. It is a joy to find it in cojoined format and one listening experience, each episode being about 15 minutes long and clearly marked out as such. The series is a layer cake of well researched, lively morsels and nuggets of real, documented, human experiences which help illuminate Vickery's broad ideas about the cultural norms and expectations of domestic life, travelling along a very extensive time line. Vickery has an intelligent, informative, homely and easy air about her which somehow stears away from the expectation of boring, stuffy, high brow, intellectual lecture style material, one might expect to hear from the lips of a well respected Professor. Yet Professor she is and her research and interpretation is undoubtedly high brow and intellectual in the extreme, but you never get a sense of that as you learn in a warm, gentle, innocently gossipy kind of way (aided to some degree by Vickery's charming and comforting Lancashire accent). Note how the domestic never strays far from what is the social, secular and psychological norm of any given time; which can only serve to give us greater understanding of our own times. To say this is brilliant is an understatement and what I love so much about Historians like Vickery (I adore Ruth Goodman and Lucy Worsley for similar reasons) is that they have broken a cultural norm in their work and changed our times by throwing very searching lights on aspects of history that are not wholly concerned with the big stuff, war, disease, famine, politics, monarchy, invasions etc. Moreover they let us know clearly how the big stuff impacts what was once considered small and inconsequential. I don't find this small fry but essential, what use is knowledge of the big stuff unless we know how it might shape us or how we might manage transition rather then be slavishly willed by its influence as has often happened in our history. The audiobook is futher enhannced by the engaing input of some lively actors, period music score, instruments and historic, beautifully pitched folk and period music.
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