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HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERon 18 April 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have a large bound volume of The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs, which is very interesting in terms of giving a few lines about where the proverb came from, but sadly it doesn't actually tell you the meaning (I guess most are self explanatory). And the joy of proverbs is that they are often contradictory, i.e. 'Absence makes the heart grow fonder', and 'Out of sight and out of mind', although the bible can be little better with the likes of 'Spare the rod and spoil the child' and 'Suffer the little children'. I guess there's a bit of truth in all of them, depending on the situation. Unlike my Dictionary of English Proverbs that lists every single one it can think of, 'One for sorrow' chooses to concentrate on a just a few but go into far more detail, and to be honest that does make for a more interesting read - you can just sit down and read this book cover to cover, rather than just dip in (which also works as the proverbs are neatly laid out with titles).

Some of the folklore are truism's like `A stitch in time saves nine' and Chloe discusses the expense of cloth and clothing in years gone by. Others are more folklore myths, such as "St Swithun's day if thou dost rain, for forty days it will remain". St. Swithun, the Bishop of Winchester, had requested to be buried outside `where he would be subjected to the feet of passer's bye and the raindrops pouring from high', but after nine years his body was moved inside the Cathedral into a shrine, and on that day there was a huge down-pour - all linking him to rain. Chloe suggests that there is some scientific basis to this, as the weather pattern tends to hold at that time of the year, so if it rains on St Swithun's day, the 15th July, the tendency to rain can last until the end of August (and visa-versa). Many of the proverbs discussed are related to the weather, not surprising really given the importance of the weather to the Harvest (and Author Chloe Rhodes, now a freelance writer/journalist, was raised on a Fenland farm).

Other folklore and their origins discussed in the book are:`Better a wolf in fold than a fine february', 'When the Peacok loudly brawls, we'll have rain & squalls', `There's no rose without a thorn', `Red sky at night, shepherds delight', `If the birds fly low then rain we shall know', 'A leap year is never a good sheep year', Hares may pull a dead lion by the beard', `A burnt child dreads the fire', `Trout jump high when rain is nigh', `Cold hands, warm heart', 'Crooked logs make straight fires', `Curses like chickens come home to roost', and `Onions skins, very thin, mild winter coming in'. There's roughly one proverb per page, and the book has 192 pages. Although it's written in a very light and breezy style, there's a fair bit of authority in the book as well, with a detailed index and a three page bibliography. It's got quite a few very nice B&W ingravings by Thomas Bewick (b 1753) as well. Overall a good book, that is nicer in hardback printed form than on the Kindle, as it's quite small and so well presented. Quite good value for around a fiver.
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on 21 February 2017
What a super little book. Full of brilliant information of saying and origins from way back. Ideal present for anyone and you can just dip in and out as you like. Extremely pleased with book and service. ++++
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VINE VOICEon 5 October 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The book is a lovely size to hold and is a hardback with an attractive paper cover.
I can't quite decide who this book is best aimed at. It's one of those books you dip in and out of really,as it lacks enough breadth and detail to be a reference book. I kept thinking it actually would be a great book for children, but it is clearly written for adults.

The explanation for some of the sayings seem a bit obvious, or maybe that's my generation? I think we were taught this kind of thing at school, and also we had those wonderful Ladybird books that were easy to read alone. Having said that some of the examples do have a lot of detail and delve back into history to when the sayings were first recorded. I have learned some interesting details from this book. eg "Red Sky At Night" goes back to the fourteenth century where it appears in John Wycliffe"s Bible.. Also that the reason for the red sky at night and red sky in the morning is given here: redness is seen in the sky opposite the sun when light rays hit water droplets in the atmosphere! Useful for knowing whether or not to bring in the sheep.

Many sayings are in fact attempts at long term weather predictions which must have been invaluable for the farmers, did they work I wonder?

A personal favourite is: n'er cast a clout til May is out...... I've been told that a clout is/was specifically a vest,(in the book it says a winter layer of clothing but I like the exactness of vest) and have found this a useful guide, anyone with me on this? :-)

The book has beautiful illustrations that are little engravings by Thomas Bewick, the leading wood engraver of his day. 18th century.

Its not a book I would ever buy for myself, but would make a good gift.
and I think a children's edition would be a great idea.
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VINE VOICEon 25 September 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Have you ever wondered where such everyday phrases as "Cold hands, warm hearts" or "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" or even "When the cat's away the mice will play"? Our language is peppered with phrases that are common as language itself and yet, although we may use them many times a day, how often have we stopped to think what they really mean?

I was raised by a grandmother born in the 19th century and sayings tripped off her tongue as commonly as ordering the daily milk or vegetables. Such phrases were already a part of the vernacular when she was a child in the 1880s.

Chloe Rhodes research into the origin of such phrases as "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb" and "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" to name but two reads like a labour of love. She has obviously been seduced by these well-worn phrases since her own childhood.

Among the very popular phrases you will find rarer ones, which you can now learn and pop, learnedly, into your conversation : "Onion skins very thin" and "Crooked logs make straight fires" for example are both new to me.

The origins are many and various but seem to follow a trend of rural differentiation and natural invention, explaining the world around in a gossipy shorthand.

There is a great deal of pleasure to be derived from such books as these and this one in particular would make a perfect gift for an older relative to whom these "old wives sayings" will, no doubt be oh so familiar. I wonder will there be such volumes in future decades, maybe phone texting phrases will become as popular....
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on 1 January 2017
i paid for a new book, and received a second hand copy, it even had a £2-50 price sticker on the back, disgusted
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VINE VOICETOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 October 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I've searched bookshops over the years for a book like this, which explains the origins of folklore, and have been too lazy to do the research myself. Chloe Rhodes has done the research, meticulously and painstaikingly, to produce this beautiful and informative compendium. If you've ever wondered about where sayings such as 'One swallow does not make a summer', or 'lightning never strikes twice' come from, you'll find them explained here. The earliest known usage and context of a saying is given, along with subsequent usages and adaptations; Shakespeare, for example, used many folkloric sayings in his plays and Bob Dylan's 'Meet Me in the Morning' includes 'the darkest hour is just before the dawn.'

As well as the more familiar sayings, there are many less well known sayings here. I hadn't heard of 'One for the Rook', 'Dog Days Bright and Clear', or 'Ash Before Oak'.

I'll only give one example of a saying explained because the idea is that people buy the book to find out...'Ash Before Oak' is a weather proverb; the belief was that if the Ash tree unfurled its leaves before the oak, then a wet summer was forecast, whilst if the oak unfurled first it would be dry.

As well as the detailed information in the book, it's also beautifully illustrated with wood engravings by the eighteenth century artist Thomas Bewick. The pictures enhance the book in general, but each one is chosen perfectly to compliment each saying, giving additional charm and character to an already gorgeous, informative book.
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 22 October 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The introduction to this book finishes with a quote by Thomas Fuller, who wrote a book of sayings in the 18th Century; "this is my effort to throw together a vast confused heap of unsorted things old and new which you may pick over and make use of according to your judgement and pleasure."

That sums up this book very well. It is a confused heap. There has been no attempt to categorise the sayings in any way; it's just one saying after another.

It feels like a book which has been written for the Christmas market - falling into the category of "what to get Dad." I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly apologise to my father for any similar books I have given him in the past, which then sat on the bathroom floor to gather dust. I promise to take more care in choosing presents in future.

I'm generally a fan of books which put together lots of interesting facts, but I'm afraid I like them to be sorted, or categorised into groups. It helps me to frame what I am learning.

I was hoping that this book would be part of a general move towards understanding our language better, and how our phrases were put together. Perhaps I was expecting a QI approach. Instead, the book comes across as Victorian instruction for the bored. I did finish the book (about 3 hours), but this could have been much better presented.
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VINE VOICEon 10 December 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book aims to give us many well known and popular sayings and proverbs and tell us the meanings or origins behind them.

With each phrase there's some text explaining the meaning and sometimes variations from different areas of the country. It's all very informally done and makes it a very easy read. The different text sizes and pictures break up the text nicely so you're not overwhelmed by text.

There are numerous black and white drawings dotted throughout the book which are a nice addition and complement the text perfectly. I then read that these are copies of engravings by Thomas Bewick, a world famous wood engraver born in Northumberland in 1753. I thought this was a really nice extra for the book to have.

Many of the proverbs in the book are very widely known and there were a few that I was aware of the origins of. There were still things from each that I didn't know but if you're a buff at this sort of thing then perhaps you'll be aware of many of those found within this book.

I would suggest that this book would make a perfect little gift or stocking filler for someone who's interested in facts and trivia or words in general. It's the kind of book you can pick up and dip in and out of and learn something new each time. I really enjoyed it and would recommend it. 4 stars.
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VINE VOICEon 22 September 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you have ever wondered at the origin of expressions, this is the book for you. Did you know, for example, that "You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink" was already well known in 1175? We are still using 12th Century expressions in the 21st Century - how's that for continuity of culture? When we talk about "the pot calling the kettle black" we are directly referring to kitchens of the Middle Ages where food was cooked over an open fire in cast iron pots that turned black with use. The expression "When poverty comes in at the door, love flies out of the window" dates from 1474 and I ardently hope that it isn't proving true for too many families caught in financial difficulty in these money-crisis driven times. There are some expressions that I have never heard before like "Hares may pull dead lions by the beard". This, it is thought, dates from the first century BC and was used "to shame anyone who tried to claim bravery when their opponent, however powerful they might once have been, has lost that power". Sounds very like "it's wrong to kick a dog when it's down". I'm glad I've got this little book. It is a very welcome addition to my bookshelf and has definitely enriched my understanding of our wonderful, English language :-)
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VINE VOICETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 September 2011
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a book (One For Sorrow: A Book of Old-Fashioned Lore) not only suitable for all ages, but would be of interest to all ages. Albeit that, in places we never find out the actual root of old folk lore sayings (the answer is lost in the mists of history), in most cases we have details of the foundations of some of our most popular and oft used sayings - hence the title "One for Sorrow"

I also like the fact that we also often find out not only the sources, but also the variations of the sayings as used in other countries. This is doubly interesting in that it shows how "common" sayings are influenced by local differences. This not only applies to other country's versions but also on occasion the variances within different parts of our own country.

I would have liked to know more about the sayings, but accept that a) often the research floundered quite early on and there was nothing for the investigator to find and; b) the book size (and therefore cost) may thence have made it beyond the reach of the everyday purse.

I recommend this book to all, but perhaps especially to Mums and Dads of 5-10 year olds who always ask "...why do people say that?"

4 Stars
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