124 of 126 people found the following review helpful
Intelligent abridgement of a misunderstood classic.,
By A Customer
This review is from: Mrs.Beeton's Book of Household Management (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
The vast majority of people assume they are familiar with 'Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management', but those expecting stuffy moralising and instructions to 'first go out and catch your hare' will be disappointed by what they find in Nichola humble's new edition, and probably rightfully so. Written by a comparatively naive girl in her early twenties, who was to die in childbirth a few years later, Beeton's book provides an unparalleled insight into Victorian social customs and domestic situations. It does not so much detail how our ancestors lived and behaved, as how they wanted to be seen to live and behave. In short this book is a vast compendium of social mores, detailing the ins and outs of a wealthy, aspirational society. Though Beeton's book provides a wealth of recipes, these are not her sole concern. The book details codes of conduct in every imaginable social situation, and gives instruction in case of a medical or legal emergencies. Advice to the mistress of the house on how to control servants is placed next to confidential advice to the servants themselves: this is indeed a book aimed at all levels of society. The recipes themselves are a startling mix, as they seem at one moment utterly modern, then at the next evoke a rural british society which was vanishing even as Beeton wrote, in the middle of the nineteenth century. They are also a charming reminder of the fact that the author was neither an experienced nor a professed cook: she frequently omits cooking times and quantities of ingredients! Finally, I would like to mention how important a modern, edited edition of Beeton's book is. The market is swamped with spurious works, such as 'Microwaving with Mrs. Beeton', an example Nichola Humble quotes in her introduction. Seemingly 'original' editions of the book, dating from the late 1800's, are in fact just as unreliable, having been altered almost unrecognisably by Beeton's publishers after her death. This edition is, I believe, the only affordable, available, reliable reproduction of Beeton's vast, encyclopaedic study of Victorian morals, culture and society. It should be read by anyone with an interest in the period, from the advanced student, to the casual reader.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 21 Feb 2009 00:48:56 GMT
anglophile reader says:
very helpful review, which I couldn't find on the US site.
Posted on 9 Jan 2011 00:45:29 GMT
Mr. B. Ambrose says:
Thank you for posting such a well written review, helped me when buying this.
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