Using a comprehensive range of sources (including the diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn and countless papers and observations from the time), Liza Picard aims to give an introduction to life in London between 1660 and 1670 (although she also uses sources from outside these time periods where the same illuminates the period).
The book is divided into the following sections: London; Houses; Interiors; Gardens, Parks and Open Spaces; Communications, Medicine and Dentistry; Clothes, Jewellery, Cosmetics, Hairdressing, Washing etc; Housework, Laundry and Shopping; Cooking, Meals, Food and Drink; Sex; Households; Education, Literacy and Speech; Hobbies, Excursions, Family Occasions and Etiquette; Divers Events and Acts in the Law; Money, Poverty and Class; Religion and Popular Beliefs and the World Picture. Picard's research is meticulous and she succeeds in providing a flavour for each section, while the comprehensive end notes provide an excellent starting point for further research for those so inclined.
Opinion is kept to a minimal, although Picard does offer suggestions where the raw data is inconclusive. The only point where this is difficult to agree with is in the Sex section where she uses the low child mortality rate to challenge the preconception of Restoration as being rife with rumpy pumpy, when it is equally possible that the statistics of the period were inaccurate due to under-reporting (a subject that she doesn't address).
This aside, Picard's novel is an excellent resource for anyone with a passing interest in Restoration social history or anyone requiring a primer for further research in the field.
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