Top positive review
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Wonderful, readable history
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?