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Amanda Vickery unlocks the homes of Georgian England to examine the lives of the people who lived there. She introduces us to men and women from all walks of life: gentlewoman Anne Dormer in her stately Oxfordshire mansion, bachelor clerk and future novelist Anthony Trollope in his dreary London lodgings, genteel spinsters keeping up appearances in two rooms with yellow wa Amanda Vickery unlocks the homes of Georgian England to examine the lives of the people who lived there. She introduces us to men and women from all walks of life: gentlewoman Anne Dormer in her stately Oxfordshire mansion, bachelor clerk and future novelist Anthony Trollope in his dreary London lodgings, genteel spinsters keeping up appearances in two rooms with yellow wallpaper, servants with only a locking box to call their own. Vickery makes ingenious use of upholsterer’s ledgers, burglary trials, and other unusual sources to reveal the roles of house and home in economic survival, social success, and political representation during the long eighteenth century.


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Amanda Vickery unlocks the homes of Georgian England to examine the lives of the people who lived there. She introduces us to men and women from all walks of life: gentlewoman Anne Dormer in her stately Oxfordshire mansion, bachelor clerk and future novelist Anthony Trollope in his dreary London lodgings, genteel spinsters keeping up appearances in two rooms with yellow wa Amanda Vickery unlocks the homes of Georgian England to examine the lives of the people who lived there. She introduces us to men and women from all walks of life: gentlewoman Anne Dormer in her stately Oxfordshire mansion, bachelor clerk and future novelist Anthony Trollope in his dreary London lodgings, genteel spinsters keeping up appearances in two rooms with yellow wallpaper, servants with only a locking box to call their own. Vickery makes ingenious use of upholsterer’s ledgers, burglary trials, and other unusual sources to reveal the roles of house and home in economic survival, social success, and political representation during the long eighteenth century.

30 review for Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England

  1. 4 out of 5

    Beata

    Amanda Vickery's book is a must for all readers who are into the literature covering that period. For me, it was a perfect read which definitely enhanced my uderstanding of the epoch. Amanda Vickery's book is a must for all readers who are into the literature covering that period. For me, it was a perfect read which definitely enhanced my uderstanding of the epoch.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Petra needs staff not addicted to their phones

    Everything we read is full of contemporary cultural references that we are generally oblivious to as they are everyday and not in any way noteworthy. But all of these references - say a description of how a house is decorated, or whether there is a piano, or bookshelves, all speak to us of the characters, class, station in life, wealth (or lack of it) and probable age and way of life of the characters. All of these things give a book context and are unremarkable to us. How much did we miss of the Everything we read is full of contemporary cultural references that we are generally oblivious to as they are everyday and not in any way noteworthy. But all of these references - say a description of how a house is decorated, or whether there is a piano, or bookshelves, all speak to us of the characters, class, station in life, wealth (or lack of it) and probable age and way of life of the characters. All of these things give a book context and are unremarkable to us. How much did we miss of these contemporary Georgian references reading, among others, Jane Austen and Anthony Trollope is very apparent reading Amanda Vickery's book. A rereading of any of these authors' books after this one will add immensely to my enjoyment of them. This is not a light glance of the Georgian era, but an extremely detailed and academic one, and all the more enjoyable for that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Warwick

    A dense and thorough investigation of Georgian homes, from furnishings and decorations through to housework, servants and the typical arrangements of married life. Vickery's sources are innumerable diaries, account books and letters; it is mostly an examination of primary evidence, and her approach is surprisingly academic, with a slightly airy, distant prose style that felt totally different from her manner on television. If there is an overriding argument, it is a feminist one that questions th A dense and thorough investigation of Georgian homes, from furnishings and decorations through to housework, servants and the typical arrangements of married life. Vickery's sources are innumerable diaries, account books and letters; it is mostly an examination of primary evidence, and her approach is surprisingly academic, with a slightly airy, distant prose style that felt totally different from her manner on television. If there is an overriding argument, it is a feminist one that questions the traditionally lower status given to women's work like sewing, compared to the ‘real’ art done mostly by men. Many feminists – from Mary Wollstonecraft to Germaine Greer – have lamented the fact that women have been stuck doing boring drudge-work while the men have been out getting pissed, doing science and writing epic poetry. Vickery takes the alternative view that handicrafts are equally interesting and deserving of critical attention, which they probably would have got if they'd been done by men. It didn't answer all the questions I had about Georgian home life, but it's a pretty interesting deep-dive into the period nonetheless.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    “London is a roost for every bird.” - Benjamin Disraeli Professor of Modern British history, Amanda Vickery has produced a beautifully illustrated book designed to instruct the reader to understanding life at home in Georgian England. What did home mean both physically and psychologically to men and women? How did they feel about privacy? The outside of Georgian homes were easy to understand, they were inspired by the ancient Greek and Roman temples so the front doors had pillars on either side. “London is a roost for every bird.” - Benjamin Disraeli Professor of Modern British history, Amanda Vickery has produced a beautifully illustrated book designed to instruct the reader to understanding life at home in Georgian England. What did home mean both physically and psychologically to men and women? How did they feel about privacy? The outside of Georgian homes were easy to understand, they were inspired by the ancient Greek and Roman temples so the front doors had pillars on either side. They were designed to impress visitors with their fancy roof above. Many had a fanlight window built into them to let the light in. The roofs were hidden behind a wall and everything had to be of the correct proportion inside and out. However inside was another matter. “Interiors do not easily offer up their secrets” the author tells us. The Georgian house interiors were telling the visitors the status of the couple or family that lived there. It reflected your taste, your moral values, your character and the state of your marriage. It was especially important to be neat and not to showy. Wallpaper choices were seriously considered as well as furniture for their moral correctness. Green was a very popular wallpaper, carpeting and cushion choice as it was considered not offensive. The book explains that life was not always easy in a 18th century Georgian home, there were definitely problems with the cold drafts and not to mention servant problems. Most houses were rented not owned and privacy and quiet was a huge issue for many home dwellers. Many of these homes had lots of little locked rooms as well which the women especially liked for privacy from the servants. The servants, sometimes had their own rooms but not always and might sleep where they could. Different family members might come and go, choosing to live with the family for a period such as the unmarried sister or an elderly parent. In a Georgian townhouse, the ground floor could be the landlady and her family. The important tenants had the front rooms and there were different rooms rented out in the back. The very poor tenants or servants would be put in the basement or in the Garrett. Many different people could live in one townhouse, piled on top of each other, climbing up and down the stairs and making lots of noise. For a good understanding of the British Georgians and their feelings of their homes, this book delivers tons of fascinating information. I really enjoyed reading it. Four plus stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Oldroses

    One of the reasons that I like history so much is learning that people are the same no matter when they lived. They have the same hopes and dreams. They love their children and hate their in-laws. They have good bosses and bad bosses, and bouts of unemployment. They feud with their neighbors and their extended families. They are just like us but without indoor plumbing and cable. Amanda Vickery has delved into the treasury trove of diaries, retail records, probate records and household account bo One of the reasons that I like history so much is learning that people are the same no matter when they lived. They have the same hopes and dreams. They love their children and hate their in-laws. They have good bosses and bad bosses, and bouts of unemployment. They feud with their neighbors and their extended families. They are just like us but without indoor plumbing and cable. Amanda Vickery has delved into the treasury trove of diaries, retail records, probate records and household account books to provide us with a detailed and intimate look at life during the Georgian period which she defines as 1660 to 1850. We catch glimpses into the lives of bachelors, spinsters, tradespeople and the wealthy. Changing tastes and habits are traced through styles of furniture and wallpaper. Most surprising to me were the number of "lodgers", people renting one or two rooms in a house, in cities during this period. As fascinating as the details in this book are, I found myself vaguely disappointed. I realized that I already knew most of the information presented by Ms. Vickery through my reading of Jane Austen. In fact, Ms. Vickery quotes Jane Austen frequently in support for her conclusions. Jane Austen’s vivid descriptions of the homes and lives of her characters are perfect illustrations of the very people that Ms. Vickery is trying to bring to life for us. Which leads me to wonder, do we really need this book? Are Jane Austen’s books not "history" because they are fiction? Perhaps "Behind Closed Doors" would better be described as finding the factual basis for Jane Austen’s fictional world. Budding novelists are always advised to write what they know which is exactly what Jane Austen did. How well she wrote about the world she knew, is shown by Ms. Vickery’s extensive research into the life and times of the people of Georgian England.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sherwood Smith

    The structure is broken into chapters that focus on aspects of life, with examples given from a number of people who left behind copious journals, letters, account books, etc. This necessarily means the middle class and those ranking above on the social scale, as they had the education, and the means, to leave behind such records. So we don't get much of a look at how those below the middle class managed to live, except in brief glinpses. That said, I found it a book to dip into and read bits ove The structure is broken into chapters that focus on aspects of life, with examples given from a number of people who left behind copious journals, letters, account books, etc. This necessarily means the middle class and those ranking above on the social scale, as they had the education, and the means, to leave behind such records. So we don't get much of a look at how those below the middle class managed to live, except in brief glinpses. That said, I found it a book to dip into and read bits over a long period of time. The focus on locks in one chapter, wallpaper in another, bachelors in their own chapter, spinsters in another, etc, furnished a fragmented sense, the more because each chapter followed a number of different characters. Despite the delightful quotes from the primary sources, and copious illustrations, I found it a tad dry because of this structure. If the text had jumped a little less from person to person and subject to subject, I might have found it more absorbing. However, watching the companion documentary after I read the book made me appreciate what I was seeing.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Brown

    Tedious and filled with long stretches of academic over-analyzing, I found this book far less informative than many other's I'd read in the same genre. A few examples are suppoed stand in for entire classes of people, and despite the promise that the book will examine the homes of people of all classes, it sticks mainly with stories of a few upper middle class people who left deadly dull account books. Even a chapter on wallpaper, that initially excited me, since my sweetie hung wallpaper in his Tedious and filled with long stretches of academic over-analyzing, I found this book far less informative than many other's I'd read in the same genre. A few examples are suppoed stand in for entire classes of people, and despite the promise that the book will examine the homes of people of all classes, it sticks mainly with stories of a few upper middle class people who left deadly dull account books. Even a chapter on wallpaper, that initially excited me, since my sweetie hung wallpaper in his youth and I've learned to appreciate its fine points was devoid of much information about the wallpaper of the day. I learned very little about what the homes of the Georgians were like, or how they lived in them throughout the year. I was hoping for something like Nylander's brilliant book, Our Own Snug Fireside, which brought alive for me what went on inside the 18th century homes I pass each day. But this isn't that kind of book. Not worth reading unless you enjoy pedantic scholarship.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emmkay

    A very satisfying read if, like me, you enjoy fairly academic social history - less so if you're apt to roll your eyes in dismay at the prospect of a chapter analyzing the correspondence ledger maintained by an eighteenth century wallpaper maker. Amanda Vickery draws on an astonishing array of primary sources to explore the home life of people in Georgian England (and Wales a bit). I was fascinated to see the use to which she puts her sources - for example, court records of theft and burglary ca A very satisfying read if, like me, you enjoy fairly academic social history - less so if you're apt to roll your eyes in dismay at the prospect of a chapter analyzing the correspondence ledger maintained by an eighteenth century wallpaper maker. Amanda Vickery draws on an astonishing array of primary sources to explore the home life of people in Georgian England (and Wales a bit). I was fascinated to see the use to which she puts her sources - for example, court records of theft and burglary cases give her a greater understanding of privacy and locks in lodgings. She also discusses a number of interesting private journals and sets of correspondence. I enjoyed it a lot.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I wanted to love this book, I really did. I have been waiting to read this book for over two years, and I finally found it at Kensington. However, there were some lacking aspects of this. Overall, the research is fantastic- quite detailed. However, she only discussed aristocratic homes (with a sprinkling of upper middle class)- not really a survey of Georgian homes when you ignore over half of the population. I found it bothersome that she never addressed this. My other main issue? Her insistenc I wanted to love this book, I really did. I have been waiting to read this book for over two years, and I finally found it at Kensington. However, there were some lacking aspects of this. Overall, the research is fantastic- quite detailed. However, she only discussed aristocratic homes (with a sprinkling of upper middle class)- not really a survey of Georgian homes when you ignore over half of the population. I found it bothersome that she never addressed this. My other main issue? Her insistence on excessive quotations. I do not need to read seven different women's orders of wallpaper, one or two will suffice. After a point, it really felt like she was just throwing it in there to say, "Look how many sources I read!!!" This book does have excellent information and research on upper-class homes in Georgian England- this is a great resource, albeit one that should be balanced out with other works. I found the writing particularly dry, but the information is still there. (Not like a novel, as the front page quotation promises.) Long story short- don't drop everything you reading just to take a crack at this.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elliot A

    This was my third attempt in venturing to understand Georgian social customs better. And again, my efforts have been in vain; however, it was an entertaining read and one which treats the reader to some unexpected insights into Jane Austen’s uses of houses and the symbolic significance of house touring during scenes in several of her novels. In addition, the research presented is based on factual bookkeeping accounts that tells the story of a handful of couples setting up houses. I appreciated the This was my third attempt in venturing to understand Georgian social customs better. And again, my efforts have been in vain; however, it was an entertaining read and one which treats the reader to some unexpected insights into Jane Austen’s uses of houses and the symbolic significance of house touring during scenes in several of her novels. In addition, the research presented is based on factual bookkeeping accounts that tells the story of a handful of couples setting up houses. I appreciated the author’s witty narrative style which brought the subject manner and the people mentioned to life and increased my curiosity. Once again, I find myself wishing I could use more of the fascinating information given in this book for my thesis, but alas I have found myself once more with more facts than I am in need of using. Overall, I must discipline myself to not lose sight of my original motivations for doing research into the Georgian period, since it has become clear that this is a highly interesting subject. I would recommend this book. ElliotScribbles

  11. 4 out of 5

    Damona

    Very informative, very interesting book. In fact, it's so stuffed full of information that it's nearly impossible to read in big chunks. I really couldn't do more than a chapter at a time, because there was just so much to consider in each one! An excellent resource for anyone interested in Georgian England. Very informative, very interesting book. In fact, it's so stuffed full of information that it's nearly impossible to read in big chunks. I really couldn't do more than a chapter at a time, because there was just so much to consider in each one! An excellent resource for anyone interested in Georgian England.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Sometimes very interesting (in particular, I enjoyed her discussion of what women made), but she paid no attention to dates. She would use one example from 1680, and another from 1880 for the same thesis with no discussion of how culture changed in those two hundred years.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Darcy

    Behind Closed Doors is a study of Georgian interiors, the importance and purpose of home, emerging commercialism and desire for home goods, the domestic spheres in which men and women moved, and the social hierarchy and expectations in the home. It is also an analysis of Georgian home decorating, which includes such things as the popularization of wallpaper, the development of “taste,” and the simultaneous celebration and marginalization of women’s handicrafts. What I found most enjoyable in Vic Behind Closed Doors is a study of Georgian interiors, the importance and purpose of home, emerging commercialism and desire for home goods, the domestic spheres in which men and women moved, and the social hierarchy and expectations in the home. It is also an analysis of Georgian home decorating, which includes such things as the popularization of wallpaper, the development of “taste,” and the simultaneous celebration and marginalization of women’s handicrafts. What I found most enjoyable in Vickery’s book wasn’t the academic analysis of wallpaper or the analysis of male/female roles, but the case studies of the lives of individuals, as revealed through their letters and journals. My favorite was the depressive spinster, Gertrude Savile, whose luckless love life was further compounded by having no money of her own. With no income, she was completely reliant on her brother, a rich baronet, and she keenly felt the humiliation of having to beg him for “every gown, sute of ribbins, pair of gloves, every pin and needle” (188). Her cheerless journal entries give vivid insight into her personal melodrama. Speaking of her brother’s house she says, “I was mightily estrang’d to it. It used to have a more friendly home air, but now I thought myself a stranger . . . I fancy’s the very walls look’d inhospitably upon me and that everything frown’d upon me for being an Intruder” (189). Bitter and feeling unwelcome, Gertrude would confine herself to her room, where handcrafts and her cat were her only pleasure. Luckily, for Gertrude, she was eventually liberated from this arrangement by a legacy, which allowed her to move into her own lodgings and experience the independence she always longed for. There are dozens more stories of personal intrigue and tragedy, including that of the dissipated bachelor, George Hilton, whose diaries reveal an addiction to drinking, gambling, and whores. Filled with remorse, Hilton would resolve “to have soe punctuall a guard over my inclynacions as never to lose my reason my imooderate drinking” (71) and that “never will I knowe a woman carnaly except in a lawfull state.” (71). Of course, he broke these resolutions quite speedily, which he candidly recorded in his journal. These stories are what made Vickery’s book come alive for me. While Vickery writes with a liveliness and wit that may surprise you, considering much of her source documents were account books and ledgers, there was some unavoidable monotony, often coming in the form of the repetition of lists found in her research These are quick to skim over though and the majority of this book was filled with fascinating facts and pithy observations. One of the benefits of reading this book is that there is an accompanying 3-disc series, At Home with the Georgians, which is narrated by Vickery and wonderfully entertaining. If the book sounds like a bit of an academic stretch for your reading tastes, just watching this series will give you the highlights of the book without any of the cumbersome academic discourse. ;)

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Finally, my unceasing curiosity about how other people arrange their homes will let me point to a worthy book, instead of assuring people that my interest has nothing to do with decorating magazines. Consider this, one of many inspired observations from the introduction: "Beyond the reach of critical fashion, however, the fascination with past homes blazes on regardless of the taint of femininity or the middlebrow ...Public interest in the way we lived then is intense. Perhaps it is this very mi Finally, my unceasing curiosity about how other people arrange their homes will let me point to a worthy book, instead of assuring people that my interest has nothing to do with decorating magazines. Consider this, one of many inspired observations from the introduction: "Beyond the reach of critical fashion, however, the fascination with past homes blazes on regardless of the taint of femininity or the middlebrow ...Public interest in the way we lived then is intense. Perhaps it is this very middle English intensity that provokes the reflex fear that to read a history of home would be like being locked overnight in a National Trust shop--suffocating under lavender bags and heritage paint. It is far too easy to scorn the desire to add colour and texture to daily existence. Lavender bags hold no terrors for me. But certainly the history of home is as much a saga of power, labour, inequality and struggle, as of sanctuary and comfort, colour and pleasure. Chaos often reigns. Cruelty begins at home."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kellie

    Honestly, I thought Vickery's writing a bit stale, but then I'd just finished Flander's Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Life in Victorian England , which read almost like a novel. I tried, oh how I tried, to show the same enthusiasm for Vickery's book but I could not. I did finish, however, due to sheer historical curiosity. But I'll have to say, it was a dry morsel to swallow. Honestly, I thought Vickery's writing a bit stale, but then I'd just finished Flander's Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Life in Victorian England , which read almost like a novel. I tried, oh how I tried, to show the same enthusiasm for Vickery's book but I could not. I did finish, however, due to sheer historical curiosity. But I'll have to say, it was a dry morsel to swallow.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ondrej Urban

    My initial impression of this book was kind of a At Home: A Short History of Private Life: The Prequel, taking you a century or two further into the past. It is not. By no means does this mean it's a bad book, a badly researched book or anything like that - after all, subpar works don't get TV series made after them. What I want to say that a reader like me, with the attention span of a goldfish, might find this challenging, as - at least compared to Bill Bryson's book - this is pretty much a de My initial impression of this book was kind of a At Home: A Short History of Private Life: The Prequel, taking you a century or two further into the past. It is not. By no means does this mean it's a bad book, a badly researched book or anything like that - after all, subpar works don't get TV series made after them. What I want to say that a reader like me, with the attention span of a goldfish, might find this challenging, as - at least compared to Bill Bryson's book - this is pretty much a dense academic study, despite the author's best efforts to start chapters with an artsy opening, puts quite good jokes here and there and all that good stuff. Behind Closed Doors will teach you about the private life in Georgian England in a similar way Feynman's Lectures in Physics teaches you physics - you have to be really serious. Otherwise, stick to the Brief History of Time :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Marilyn Gardner

    Scholarly and encyclopaedic. So many little facts that make you smile and think...so that's where... A history of the domestic interior in Georgian England taken from court cases of what was stolen , to inventories from wills, letters between cabinet makers and their clients, notes between women on taste and letters between spouses on refurbishments. Her comments on privacy are interesting (there was none!) and the importance of your own, lockable box, that would contain all that was yours. This Scholarly and encyclopaedic. So many little facts that make you smile and think...so that's where... A history of the domestic interior in Georgian England taken from court cases of what was stolen , to inventories from wills, letters between cabinet makers and their clients, notes between women on taste and letters between spouses on refurbishments. Her comments on privacy are interesting (there was none!) and the importance of your own, lockable box, that would contain all that was yours. This applied to servants, apprentices and to spinster ladies. Fascinating read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sophie Turner

    Based on the phenomenal amount of research Vickery did, I really wanted to give this 5 stars. Some other reviewers did not like all of the quotations, but I really enjoy seeing how real people spoke about things. Where things fell down for me was in the writing. It's almost as though Vickery aimed to use her entire vocabulary (and believe me, it's extensive) in the course of writing this book, perhaps to make the arguments sound more intelligent. What resulted instead was a lot of redundancy and Based on the phenomenal amount of research Vickery did, I really wanted to give this 5 stars. Some other reviewers did not like all of the quotations, but I really enjoy seeing how real people spoke about things. Where things fell down for me was in the writing. It's almost as though Vickery aimed to use her entire vocabulary (and believe me, it's extensive) in the course of writing this book, perhaps to make the arguments sound more intelligent. What resulted instead was a lot of redundancy and bloated sentences that made the central argument keep tumbling away from me as a reader, rather than reinforcing it. For me a non-fiction book needs to be both extensively researched and written in a way that tells the story without getting in the reader's way in order to be five stars, and this just did not live up to the latter, despite how impressed I was by the historical research.

  19. 4 out of 5

    ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)

    This was a very interesting read but it would have been much more enjoyable had the writing been less academic. A quote on the book cover says that Amanda Vickery is a “historian who writes like a novelist” but I wholly disagree as I find that she writes like a historian in a very scholarly, pedantic way. The book is so dense with facts and research that it definitely could have benefited from a lighter style. As interesting as the book is, reading gets tedious at times because of Vickery’s dry This was a very interesting read but it would have been much more enjoyable had the writing been less academic. A quote on the book cover says that Amanda Vickery is a “historian who writes like a novelist” but I wholly disagree as I find that she writes like a historian in a very scholarly, pedantic way. The book is so dense with facts and research that it definitely could have benefited from a lighter style. As interesting as the book is, reading gets tedious at times because of Vickery’s dry writing and constant theorising. Behind Closed Doors actually reminded me a lot of some history books that were part of my curriculum at university: a great source of information but definitely not an entertaining read!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Albert

    An engaging look at life at home in Georgian England. Vickery wisely stays with the evidence though it limits the book mostly to the upper middling and upper classes. Subjects like wallpaper, handicrafts and lock boxes allow her to reveal class and gender attitudes and expectations. The depressing lives of spinsters comes to the foreground more than once. But she also reveals that gender relations--particularly in marriages--is more complex than can be seen from merchants' account books. Just be An engaging look at life at home in Georgian England. Vickery wisely stays with the evidence though it limits the book mostly to the upper middling and upper classes. Subjects like wallpaper, handicrafts and lock boxes allow her to reveal class and gender attitudes and expectations. The depressing lives of spinsters comes to the foreground more than once. But she also reveals that gender relations--particularly in marriages--is more complex than can be seen from merchants' account books. Just because convention assumed the husband as purchaser, did not mean that the wife's opinion wasn't sought, considered and valued.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Johannes

    Unless you are reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally interested in this topic, don't buy it. It's well written and has interesting parts but honestly, how much could I care about wallpaper?! Not that much, and yes, there is a whole chapter on that, I realized by 45% of the book I was skipping most of it. I do admit Amanda Vickery did a good job here, however,I do also think I failed to find this book's topic that much enthralling, I had the hope it would be mostly about lives and households and yet I've Unless you are reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally interested in this topic, don't buy it. It's well written and has interesting parts but honestly, how much could I care about wallpaper?! Not that much, and yes, there is a whole chapter on that, I realized by 45% of the book I was skipping most of it. I do admit Amanda Vickery did a good job here, however,I do also think I failed to find this book's topic that much enthralling, I had the hope it would be mostly about lives and households and yet I've spent all my time reading about furniture and not about the people who used them.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Hettie

    This book surprised, in the worst possible way. I'd seen it everywhere: every bookshop, every gift shop of any historical residence which had Georgian connections. It seemed like one of the most popular historical non-fictions out, and since it was about the Georgians I was sold! Little did I know how dense this book was, how hard it would be to trawl through page after page about different wallpaper designs. For a book that prides itself on being 'readable', I found it anything but. And that's This book surprised, in the worst possible way. I'd seen it everywhere: every bookshop, every gift shop of any historical residence which had Georgian connections. It seemed like one of the most popular historical non-fictions out, and since it was about the Georgians I was sold! Little did I know how dense this book was, how hard it would be to trawl through page after page about different wallpaper designs. For a book that prides itself on being 'readable', I found it anything but. And that's coming from someone who reads a lot of historical non-fiction

  23. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    If you love Georgian England, or if you just love to look into the past and see how ordinary people actually lived, this is a great book. Unfortunately, this is NOT an easy read, and can be on the dry side if one is not a history book reader, but it is loaded with a wealth of information and, by textbook standards, it is engaging to the reader.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Emg

    More academic in tone than I appreciated. The book was primarily about things which is something I'm not very drawn to especially when weighed down by catalogues of quantity and items which detracts from the implications. More academic in tone than I appreciated. The book was primarily about things which is something I'm not very drawn to especially when weighed down by catalogues of quantity and items which detracts from the implications.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Eve

    Okay, I confess, I found this book dryer and less bedtime readable than I'd hoped for, but reality is that this well-researched book is dependent on the joys of laundry lists and wallpaper catalogues for its material. What I find interesting is how researchers like Vickery glean information for such sources with which to put together pictures of lesser known aspects of history. These are generally the areas women inhabit. Unfortuneately, even fewer traces were left by the poor, so their home liv Okay, I confess, I found this book dryer and less bedtime readable than I'd hoped for, but reality is that this well-researched book is dependent on the joys of laundry lists and wallpaper catalogues for its material. What I find interesting is how researchers like Vickery glean information for such sources with which to put together pictures of lesser known aspects of history. These are generally the areas women inhabit. Unfortuneately, even fewer traces were left by the poor, so their home lives remain under-represented in this book. I give the book four stars for what Vickery does achieve with the sources available.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patrick von Stutenzee

    Amanda Vickery was able to show how the house and home had become a stage set to receive guests not only for aristocrats but for the merchant cit as well. The accounts told her what the latest fad in design was, like the yellow wallpaper bought by Gertrude Savile (and this unhappy penchant to decorate houses in unflattering colors persists in England to this day). At one point, she marveled at the aptitude of an alcoholic to write a coherent diary in which he mentioned the amount of booze he got Amanda Vickery was able to show how the house and home had become a stage set to receive guests not only for aristocrats but for the merchant cit as well. The accounts told her what the latest fad in design was, like the yellow wallpaper bought by Gertrude Savile (and this unhappy penchant to decorate houses in unflattering colors persists in England to this day). At one point, she marveled at the aptitude of an alcoholic to write a coherent diary in which he mentioned the amount of booze he got through every day. Read the full review

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ronan Mcdonnell

    This is a dense and intriguing book, the product of original work by the author. Much of the text reinforces what a reader might expect to be the case, but there is plenty of surprise too. Mist of Georgian England it seems, the wealthy included, were renters, not owners. Spinsters even more so, were subject to frequent changes in their living arrangements. The one thing I struggled with in reading the book is how undifferent the Georgians were. By the close you realise they were a historian's cr This is a dense and intriguing book, the product of original work by the author. Much of the text reinforces what a reader might expect to be the case, but there is plenty of surprise too. Mist of Georgian England it seems, the wealthy included, were renters, not owners. Spinsters even more so, were subject to frequent changes in their living arrangements. The one thing I struggled with in reading the book is how undifferent the Georgians were. By the close you realise they were a historian's creation, a neat grouping signed with the reigns of monarchs. Life continued much as it did before and after. But right there in the middle, for just a glimpse, was a moment frozen in time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    An impressive, extensively researched look at the interior lives of the population of England during the Georgian Period. From the mansions to the tiny rented rooms of bachelors serving apprenticeships Ms Vickery exposes the social rules, power struggles and enormous social pressures that attended one's choice of clothing, living arrangements, and indeed, every behavior that took place in public. Additionally she has managed to ferret out the details of each type of household - how it was run, by An impressive, extensively researched look at the interior lives of the population of England during the Georgian Period. From the mansions to the tiny rented rooms of bachelors serving apprenticeships Ms Vickery exposes the social rules, power struggles and enormous social pressures that attended one's choice of clothing, living arrangements, and indeed, every behavior that took place in public. Additionally she has managed to ferret out the details of each type of household - how it was run, by whom, and the strict class codes that encouraged all to "keep to their station in life."

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Wagner

    I can't claim to love this social history of Georgian England, as I found it a bit dry and very academic in its style and approach. However, I did appreciate the anecdotes used throughout the book to illustrate how a sometimes abstract social perception actually played out in people's lives. I do think the author could have discussed the differences between the social classes in this era more, which would provide a more complete picture of society. I can't claim to love this social history of Georgian England, as I found it a bit dry and very academic in its style and approach. However, I did appreciate the anecdotes used throughout the book to illustrate how a sometimes abstract social perception actually played out in people's lives. I do think the author could have discussed the differences between the social classes in this era more, which would provide a more complete picture of society.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cara

    Although at times too dense to read easily, this is nonetheless a thorough and excellent overview of the nitty-gritty of domestic English life between the late-17th and early-19th centuries. I wouldn't call this of general interest, but fans of Jane Austen and her ilk will unquestionably find value in at least parts of this volume, as it sheds light on some of the more obscure domestic behaviors and desires shared by her heroines that lend a deeper appreciation of the novels of the time. Although at times too dense to read easily, this is nonetheless a thorough and excellent overview of the nitty-gritty of domestic English life between the late-17th and early-19th centuries. I wouldn't call this of general interest, but fans of Jane Austen and her ilk will unquestionably find value in at least parts of this volume, as it sheds light on some of the more obscure domestic behaviors and desires shared by her heroines that lend a deeper appreciation of the novels of the time.

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