8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A remarkable read,
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This review is from: Curiosities of London Life (Victorian London Ebooks) (Kindle Edition)"In short, if you are fascinated by the social history of London and the seemingly inexhaustible variety of Victorian 'low life', then I am confident you will find this a most entertaining read"> So writes Lee Jackson, its editor.I find this a considerable understatement of the merits of this long-lost volume. You will not need to be interested in social history nor 'of London' nor 'of Victorian' nor 'of 'low life' - Not at all. Here is a picture of a bygone city in a totally transformed country a hundred and fifty years ago that in so many ways is different from our own times. It has no comparable technology, no comparable welfare nor health schemes and nothing like the complexity of life in a modern city. But it has "reality" in the sense developed by the modern media. These are real people struggling to make a living through honest or dishonest means, surrounded by the contemptuous, the gullible and the totally uncaring people on whom they rely. Manby Smith is the central character, observing, describing, commenting, complaining, admiring, envying and displaying every emotion, just as we do when we watch so many television programmes that expose our own society. The reader's reaction will be sympathetic, prurient, fascinated, dismissive,credulous, contemptuous - feelings just like those when watching Big Brother, Jeremy Kyle or a Piers Morgan interview. At every section -and there are thirty nine - attentive readers will find themselves comparing their experiences of city life to that so different time. Likewise, they will question the reaction of Manby Smith to the many characters he meets to their own reaction to those they meet every day in their town or city. They will also not fail to recognise that, although there are many differences that make this London almost a fantasy city and a costume drama, there are as many things that have not changed.
My own favourites include the music-grinder, the umbrella man, the sad trombonist,the loss of the pieman (reminds me of Greggs),Sunday trading, a different mode of advertising, the mock auction and the several pieces describing the effects of expansion on the old villages.
Prepare yourself for some of the most descriptive language you'll ever read - certainly over the top - written for a more leisurely age. It will fill many a pause in your life when you are waiting for Godot. Buy it today! It's a steal!