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Many books can be found outlining Georgian political history and more than one biography has been written on Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, but the everyday lives of genteel women have had less attention. In this book, Vickery uses surviving letters, diaries, accounts and pocketbooks of a selection of Georgian women living genteel lives in Northern England. I found the book interesting, but fairly heavy going in places. Any modern woman reading the chapter on childbirth will be glad to live in the current age! This is a good insight into everyday life and the role and functions of women within society. However, the type in my copy I found to be quite small, and so a little hard on the eyes. Chapters are also quite long with few breaks in the text. Vickery has also devoted a significant proportion of the book to notes and appendices, where she lists senders and recipients of letters referred to in the main text and other information on the original source material. Interesting, but a fairly scholarly book.
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on 3 March 2000
I will admit that I was given this book by a dear friend, but the gift arrived at one of those amazingly serendipitous moments when everything in one's intellectual life seems to point in a single direction. During the past two years I have been rather single-minded in my pursuit of English literature of the 18th and 19th centuries, and first on my list of "keepers" are the novels written by such figures as Fanny Burney, Maria Edgeworth, Ann Radcliffe, and of course, Jane Austen. Thus, as you can imagine, Ms. Vickery's amazing feat of scholarship has been a more than welcome discovery. At turns both light-hearted and astoundingly detailed, it does just what a history book should do, in my estimation, and that is bring the past to life. Part of the fascination of history is, no doubt, that we can see how very strange and remote another time is, but how wonderful to find a work that so adroitly shows how very much we have in common with an earlier time, and in my case, brings the experiences known only through novels to full and meaningful life. I especially appreciate the fact that the author is at pains to point out just how at odds the evidence is with accepted feminist history; this somewhat contrary approach is altogether convincing. But the highest praise I can give from my perspective as a non-historian is that The Gentleman's Daughter (I cannot help but wonder if the title does not echo Elizabeth Bennet, but I may be, at present, too dazzled by Miss Austen to settle upon any other conclusion) is dazzling and entertaining, and I beg my more scholarly companions in reading to excuse the use of the suspect term.
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on 4 September 2015
Anyone thinking of buying the kindle edition of this book should be warned that it is not a proper rendition of the print edition... Despite there being no discount to compensate, the digital edition does not contain all of the pictures and illustrations but rather has black spaces saying it was not possible to obtain rights to reproduce the pictures in the digital edition and one should "refer to the print edition " I think this is a real cheat that there is no notice of this on Amazon and no discount for it. I would not have bought the kindle edition if I had known this. It has spoiled my enjoyment of the book.
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I had listened to Amanda Vickery's Radio Four Series on the Georgians, 'Behind Closed Doors', with great pleasure. I also managed to catch some of her BBC documentary on the same subject on television over Christmas. She is an engaging and thought provoking presenter with a lively sense of humour and a fascinating way of presenting her subject. I was thoroughly looking forward to reading this book as a result.

The book, it has to be said, is a little more hard going than the work she presents through the media. This is a much more scholarly volume. There are over 100 pages of appendices, references and bibliographical material, which will be incredibly useful for the student of the era and anybody interested in pursuing the subject further.

The first chapter I admit to having found really hard going. It read more like the introduction to a PHD paper than a book, setting out references and parameters for study etc. I persevered though and after that found it much more readable and genuinely interesting. Vickery's strength is in her insistence on not lumping everyone and everything into broad, sweeping historical categories, which of their nature, exclude many interesting individuals, ideas and stories. Vickery's extensive use of diaries, pocket books, letters and archive materials relating to individuals gives her words, wisdom, interest and a sense of connection to lives that were lived in reality, rather than guessed at by the broad brush strokes of a historian with an agenda to fulfil.

The chapter on childbirth was particularly interesting, as was the chapter on how the public life of Georgian women came to flourish over the centuries in question.

Fascinating.
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on 15 March 2011
I bought this book after watching the author's TV series, screened at the end of 2010. I found that the pleasure that I experienced from her TV series was not matched by this book.

Much of my reading in retirement has been of history books which clearly have been written and published for a general audience, and I believe that this book would have been more enjoyable if it had been more clearly aimed at the general reader.

The focus of the content on the lives of gentlewomen in East Lancashire did not work for me. I felt at the end of the book that I should have felt an attachmnet to the principal characters, but, in part because of the way in which the narrative was structured,this was not there when I finished the book.

Other reviewers have already commented on the small font size and the chapter lengths which make this book a difficult read. I would also add that the quality of the images printed within the text was very poor in my copy.They were so dark that as I read the text I tended to ignore them.

Having said what I did not like about this book, I should say that at the end I did feel that I had an understanding of the way in which this particular group of women lived their lives and understood more about the very active part that they played in society.
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on 25 October 2000
If you are a scholar of the eighteenth century and you have not read this book, then make it your top priority. It is, quite simly, the most illuminating history book of some time, and fantastically repositions the role of women in this period. Social history for the academic and lay person alike, Brilliant!!
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on 10 October 2012
Scholarly and verbose this lacks the wit and focus Amanda Vickery brought to her television series about the Georgians. To many of her conclusions and too little of the actual words of the women themselves. A source book rather than a page turner.
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on 4 June 2014
Excellent analysis of lives of 'genteel' women of eighteenth century. Vickery's research is innovative and meticulous and opens the way to new areas of study. By the end you feel you know her subjects as well as family members.
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on 16 July 2016
I bought this on kindle and had to return it because the images would not load and stated "it was not possible to obtain rights to reproduce the pictures in the digital edition" Makes buying the book on kindle pretty pointless. It should warn potential buyers that the kindle edition has limited access.
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on 10 November 2013
It took me a while to get into this book, Amanda Vickery is very good on tv documentaries but I found her writing a little dry but nonetheless the subject matter is fascinating
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