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on 17 May 2014
Apologies for this review not being more substantial, however this book provides great insight into the topic and makes wallpaper far more interesting than it should be.
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on 1 December 2009
I am a great fan of Amanda Vickery's books. And I think that they should be required reading for anyone interested in the social history of the Georgian era.

Her previous work, "The Gentleman's Daughter" was a wonderfully detailed exploration of the intimate lives of women in the 18th century and helped many of us to a greater understanding of Jane Austen's female character's lives, setting them in a recognisable historical context .Her new book "Behind Closed Doors : at home in Georgian England" once again takes the domestic realm as it subject but details it on a much wider scale.

She does not concentrate on one class of people but considers, in minute detail, the intimate lives of landladies and lodgers, tradesmen and women, professionals and aristocrats living in both London and in the provinces.

Its scale is breathtaking and the detail, delicious. And what I really adore is that she admits the historical truth of Jane Austen's writings by including copious quotes from the six novels to illustrate her points. Indeed, she devotes almost half a chapter of the book to consider the way in which the subject of the home is treated by Austen's heroines and heroes, even going so far as to paraphrase the famous opening sentence of Pride and Prejudice.

"It is a truth universally acknowledged that a Georgian house with a drawing room,French windows and lawns must be in want of a mistress..."

It was an irresistible and understandable opportunity ....I daresay had I been given the chance to play with that famous line, I would not have let it pass either...

While reading Professor Vickery's descriptions of the lives and experiences of real individuals the Jane Austen devotee will find many parallels with the situations in which her characters find themselves.

The book is beautifully produced , printed on fine glossy paper and illustrated in black and white and colour with very appropriate and carefully chosen illustrations.

I confess I have devoured this book and read it quickly almost at one sittting.I am going to revisit it over the next few weeks savouring its detail. I highly recommend this book to you: anyone who is keen on Jane Austen's works will enjoy delving into the minutiae of real people's lives - especially as many of the lives have telling details which echo in Austen's works.

Is it too much to hope that this book will soon appear in a Kindle edition?
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on 14 March 2016
Fantastically detailed book, which has none of the fustiness of many history books
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on 22 December 2010
A carefully researched and vigourously presented study of Georgian homelife as interpreted through building, decor, fashion and customs. The study of domestic accounts and of personal correspondence is particularly good, and the contemporary illustrations relate well to the text. The emphasis on the relative roles of men and women in domestic and financial arrangements provides fascinating insight into what many have considered to be a male-dominated society.
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on 8 October 2010
`Behind Closed Doors' is an astonishing achievement. To say I enjoyed it is an understatement, really - the effect of the book was truly thrilling, in a way you don't expect when you take an academic book off a library shelf.

The writing in the main body of the text let the reader experience an incredibly direct engagement with eighteenth century lives, but at the same time this experience was contextualised by the controlling argument on the book - and all this underpinned by the terrifying range of sources listed in the notes. This is an amazing book. Just order it.
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on 14 June 2010
This is an obviously well researched book, with Vickery pulling from many different sources. However, with many repetitions of statements already made (often in the same chapter), it seems the book could have been almost half its size. The chapters themselves also seem to deal with very much the same subject in households, namely, the difference and relationship between men and women. Fair enough, but not as varied as the description of the book would have you believe.
There are also statements of the blindingly obvious, such as- when someone wipes faeces on your front door, it is a statement of their personal dislike of you....Wow. You don't say. Another gem was 'kitchens represented not just a special room for the business of cooking, but also a space for storing the expanding battery of equipment employed for processing food and drink.' Right-not the most informative of sentences, but admittedly true- still, not really restricted to the 18th and 19th century's.
I personally think the author made more of an effort to sound intellectual rather than impart actual knowledge deserving of a book of this size. I learnt, but not as much as I hoped to, and the book was therefore a bit of a struggle to read- waiting for the repetition and obvious statements to end, and for the learning to begin.
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on 13 January 2011
This is a book of two halves. When Vickery is analysing account books and diaries it is quite interesting though she does sometimes state the 'bleedin obvious'. But when she starts theorising - oh my Gawd, get your dictionary of academese out!

Be prepared for sentences like 'the mystery surrounding the faculty of taste lent it versatility, and it's adjectival usefulness to retailers...hastened the spread beyond the patrician elite'

Or 'nevertheless the myth that classicism was strictly masculine and diversions feminine settled into a formula that shaped the grammar of design'

Oh, and your home, or lack of it, materialises your place in the social heirarchy!

You get my drift? She's one of these writers that thinks you have to use long convoluted sentences to prove how clever you are. She also uses terms like 'mise en scene' or 'faute de mieux' instead of perfectly good English expressions.

There is some merit in this book but I can't really recommend it. I was going to buy her book about Gentleman's Daughters but after reading this I don't think I will.
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on 17 October 2015
Brilliant and beautifully written. A fabulous insight into Georgian lives.
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on 4 September 2015
Very interesting and a pleasure to read.
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on 27 July 2014
Found this book very disappointing. Slightly patronising writing style, more in keeping with a series of academic essays than a novel ("this chapter will discuss..."). Also found it rather heavy to read and was relieved to get to the end. Having said that there were some interesting parts and a wealth of detail to help you visualise the era.
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