My friends know me as a Jane Austen aficionado; I am pretty into her to say the least! So, when Jen Newby (AKA. @historyforgirls) put me in contact with the wonderful Roy and Lesley Adkins (authors of this marvellous guide to Jane Austen’s England), I was, in a word, excited!
My idea of heaven.
To put this book into perspective, the bibliography is a chapter in itself. It is truly astonishing, and I can only imagine the time and effort that Roy and Lesley clearly put into this book. And do you know what, it really shows. The title is spot on, you really feel as though you are eavesdropping on Jane Austen’s world!
Although I love learning about the fashions of days gone by, I am also interested in the ordinary lives of, well, the ordinary people. Having traced parts of my family tree, my ancestry thus far reveals nothing grander than carters or cotton mill workers. Therefore, I was captivated by the way this book details the ordinariness of the lives of servants, cooks, chimney sweeps, milliners and most interestingly for me, coal workers.
Life wasn’t all ball gowns and dancing until 4am!
My family name is Collier. Enough said. But I learnt, through this book, that a ‘collier’ was also a boat that drove coal up the River Tyne. Is this where my family name comes from? Or does it derive from the poor, young children that were forced to push carts of coal up and down the mines all day long, barely seeing the light of day? I’ll keep you posted.
Learn about dental hygiene of the day, the cold weather frost fairs, smelly chamber pots and enjoy the fantastically named chapter, ‘Breeding’ (it will make you thankful for the NHS). There are too many wonderful things about this book to put into a review. Roy and Lesley are clearly masters of research. This book literally transports you back to a time where people did much more than go to fancy balls, take a turn about the gardens and eat plum pudding!
Spot the Cavalier King Charles!
I really want you all to go out and buy it, so I shall not tell you anymore!
FACT – The one critisim i have with this book is that it made me want to be Elizabeth Bennett….and this happened…
Jen, as Elizabeth Bennett…are you jealous?