This book is delightful! It is one of those books you want to tell people about constantly but worry that they will roll their eyes after the sixth or seventh Victorian life fun fact. But it is packed with interesting tidbits at every turn of the page and you cannot help but be aghast at some of the details. I would give you some examples, but I really cannot spoil your fun and probably you would not believe me anyway.
Flanders wonderfully constructs the book around each room in the Victorian home. She describes the home in detail, the expectations set forth by Mrs. Panton and Mrs. Beeton (the Martha Stewarts of their time) and the reality. She illustrates with excerpts from literature of the time as well as letters and diary entries. The book describes mostly upper middle class Londoners but does occasionally discuss the serving class and the truly wealthy.
Flanders discusses the Victorian life by going past the physical aspects of the room but what actually went on in the room and how that was informed by Victorian society (or vice versa). For example, the chapter on the Nursery discusses the Victorian view of children and parenthood. The chapter on the Dining Room includes information on Victorian cooking, or overcooking, as it were. The chapter on the Sick Room discusses the Victorian views on health, illness and death (including the various stages of mourning).
Okay, okay I cannot contain myself any longer! I will not give you any Victorian fun facts but I will let you know that these questions are answered in the pages of this awesome book:
-What common childhood ailment was actually a measurable cause of death for infants?
-What common home decoration was extremely toxic?
-How long was the recommended boiling time for macaroni? a>30 minutes b> up to 1 hour c>up to 1 hour and 45 minutes
So check it out! You will be amazed we are all still alive and you will wonder what our ancestors will think of our everyday life.
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