Monday, January 14, 2013

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist--the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist--the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England
Today’s Non-Fiction post is on “What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist--the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England” by Daniel Pool. It is 416 pages long, including a glossary for terms, a bibliography, and an index. It is published by Simon & Schuster in 1993. The cover is very colorful with pictures of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens each on one side of the cover. The intended reader is someone who wants to understand more about the 19th century and to better understand how the writers of that time lived. There is nothing offensive in this book so if you have a student reading those great works of writing; have no fear about them reading this to better understand the novels. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the dust jacket- For every frustrated reader of the great nineteenth-century English novels of Austen, Trollope, Dickens, or the Bront√ęs who has ever wondered whether a duke outranked an earl, when to yell "Tally Ho!" at a fox hunt, or how one landed in "debtor's prison," here is a "delightful reader's companion that lights up the literary dark" (The New York Times). 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 nineteenth-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

Review- Pool knows his stuff. I was an English major and I wish that I had read this when I was an undergraduate. Pool explains everything from money to servants in good, simple English. It is a refreshing read because it helped me answer questions that I had about pretty much all of the 19th literature that I have read. He does not give plot synopsis of the novels but he gets the nit-picky parts of the novels. He does this but explaining everything. He moves from the ‘greater world’ to the ‘private world’. Now it is dry in parts mostly when he is giving an overlook of a new topic, like when he is explaining the servants in a household. He gives an overview then he goes into a more detailed and more interesting in-depth view of what is a housemaid. The Glossary in the back is a hundred and thirty-six pages long. In it Pool gives definitions for everything from Abigail- A lady’s maid to everything from Abigail- A lady’s maid to our Worship- The correct form of address to a magistrate, e.g., a justice of the peace. So if you are going to be taking a 19th century lit course or just want to understand more about some of your favorite novels then this is the book for you.

I give this one Five out of Five. I get nothing from this review and I borrowed this book from my local library.

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