4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A good resource for lovers of 19th century British literature,
This review is from: What Jane Austen Ate Etc (Hardcover)
Lost in Austen? Defeated by Dickens? Troubled by Trollope? Then this could be the book for you!
Daniel Pool has written an accessible and entertaining guide to 19th century life in England covering both the Regency and Victorian periods. Although aimed at American readers life in 19th century England was sufficiently different from life in 21st century England to make this a useful book for a native British person to read. The second half of the book is a 100 page glossary which would be a useful aide to refer to whilst reading.
What makes this book particularly interesting to a lover of 19th century British literature is that Pool often uses quotes or refers to passages in those well-known 19th century books to illustrate his explanations. Of course, this had the effect of either making me want to reread my favourite 19th century authors or investigate new ones -so be warned!
The only thing that stopped me from giving this book five stars was that I would have preferred a longer book with more information and pictures/diagrams. This book serves as a good introduction to the subject but left me wanting to know more and there were several areas where I felt the subjects discussed could have been much more easily explained using pictures. On the subject of carriages, for example, which are often mentioned in Austen's book, Pool runs through a list of the different coaches and carriages in use and the social status implied with each vehicle. But none of his explanation stayed in my head; the carriages all had fairly similar names and the descriptions given weren't enough to let me picture them in my head. A page of drawings illustrating the different types of carriages would have made all the difference. Similarly for the subject of dress in the 19th century. Would it have been all that difficult to include some pictures of the typical costumes worn by men and women during the 19th century?
But overall this was an enjoyable and informative read. It just needed a little bit more to make it truly exceptional.