Thursday, October 6, 2011
What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew
This fascinating, lively guide clarifies the sometimes bizarre maze of rules, regulations, and customs that governed everyday life in Victorian England. Author Daniel Pool provides countless intriguing details (did you know that the "plums" in Christmas plum pudding were actually raisins?) on the Church of England, sex, Parliament, dinner parties, country house visiting, and a host of other aspects of nineneenth-century English life - both "upstairs" and "downstairs."
An illuminating glossary gives at a glance the meaning and significance of terms ranging from "ague" to "wainscoting," the specifics of the currency system, and a lively host of other details and curiosities of the day.
I bought this to read on my cruise, but ending up not getting to it. I picked it up after we got home and ended up reading it compulsively. I bought it, so could have put it aside for my other, more urgent, library books, but I couldn't stop reading it, even when I got to the glossary (which is the last third or so of the book). I loved this!!! But then, I love Victorian literature. I learned a ton of new facts and have probably been annoying my husband by spouting off a new one every time one pops into my head. This book is neither dry nor boring. It has lots of short, interesting chapters and covers a huge range of subjects. It's a great companion to all the Victorian books on my shelf. My favorite part about this book is the fact that Daniel Pool uses lots of examples from literature in this book. He's constantly referencing the works of Austen (who is technically pre-Victorian), Dickens, Hardy, Eliot, Thackeray, Trollope, Bronte, etc... to illustrate points and facts. I found this fascinating and am so glad I own it. It's a new favorite reference work and I've put it in a very accessible spot on my bookshelves.