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Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England Paperback – November 18, 2005
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Overall the book was incredibly enjoyable. Some reviewers thought the author deviated off topic a bit here and there. And I think that's true but given the enormous topic I thought it was organized rather well.
The only real critique I will give is I think taking advice from the ladies magazines of the day make things seem a little far fetched. Kinda like if you fast forward 200 years into the future and you were trying to get an idea of home life as it exists now based off Martha Stewart Living columns. "Unless you have the so-and-so mushrooms (you've never heard of before) for your 6 course meal, it's just not worth it. ~Martha Stewart" You know what I mean? Very few people with average incomes live and function like Martha Stewart so it would be an in-accurate snapshot of life. However there are other facts and excerpts given from journals, notebooks and other sources that the reader can put faith into and know that the account given is true.
Overall the British were and are a somewhat pragmatic people and I refuse to think that most of them were absolute slaves to the status quo. I think just like now where you have the over pampered stay at home housewife of 2015 who has the time to worry about having a gift wrapping station, back then you had the Sally "what will the neighbors think" Jones who was completely beholden to the Ladies Home Journal of 1860.
Fun book, I highly recommend it and you will value running water, showers, soap, washing machines and our generally bug and odor free existence even more so then you did before.
As much as we romanticize historical fiction (and I'm guilty as an author), after reading this book it's quite obvious living in the 19th century was not the most pleasant of tasks. Ideas, medicine, hygiene, transportation, living conditions, etc. were less than desirable. However, you can't help but love the manners, the clothing (though I don't think I'd like to wear 40 pounds of clothing myself), which are intriguing as ever. There are stark realities too, such as short living expectancies for men in certain parts of the UK, multiple thousands dying from disease, not to mention often crude and ignorant methods of medical treatment.
My blue jean fast world of iPhones, computers, television, cars, and all the modern necessities are welcome after reading Inside the Victorian Home. However, even though society has evolved into a technical wonder, I think society as a whole has thrown out values, social manners, and common courtesy that were the real treasures of the 19th century.
I recommend the book, if you're looking for a true representation of life in that time era.