Saturday, May 28, 2011

...and Charles Dickens Knew, My Review


At last I'm giving my review of What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist -- the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England. I would highly recommend this book! It's almost like an encyclopedia of background information on 19th century English life. But, unlike a real encyclopedia, it is much less daunting. Which means the way it is written makes it easy to read. 

Some of my questions it answered were:

  • How exactly do you play whist, commerce, vingt-et-un, piquette, casino, etc.?
  • Where did country houses get their names?
  • Why were horses such a status symbol?
  • What exactly did all the servants do?
  • When is Michaelmas?
  • What's the difference between an apothecary and a surgeon?
The book is neatly divided into sections such as: 
  • "The Basics," with subcategories "Currency," "The Calendar," "London," etc.
  • "The Public World," with "The Titled," and "Esq., Gent., K.C.B., etc." and so on
  • "The Country," with "The Midland, Wessex and Yorkshire" and "Shire and Shire Alike: Local Government in Britain," etc.
It includes a handy glossary as well. Very helpful when you'd like to find a specific term.

Besides Mr. Dickens and Miss Austen Mr. Pool looks at works primarily by Anthony Trollope, Thomas Hardy and Charlotte and Emily Brontë. He covers the upper class, lower class and working class, transportation, titles, government (local and national), vocabulary, food, social life, crime, money, marriage, fashion -- from an "abigail" to a "yew," he'll inform you on all the important points of life in the nineteenth century.

I'd recommend it as a very interesting and helpful investment for any reader of 19th century novels!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Collector's Library Sense and Sensibility: A Review

The Collector's Library Sense and Sensibility

To celebrate the opening of our shop and information site, which carries this edition, this is a review of my favorite edition of Sense and Sensibility, which itself is celebrating in the form of the bicentennial of it's publication!

This is not a review to critique it's author -- who would dare?! -- only it's aesthetics and extra materials. To begin, I love it's size, which is approximately six by four inches. It is ideal for tucking into my purse or packing for a trip, especially one by airplane. The only downside to it's compactness is it's small print, which may be difficult to read, if that is an issue. It is an elegant little piece, with gold-gilt page edges, a built-in ribbon bookmark and a red cloth hardback cover under it's decorative dust jacket. But the most delightful addition is the artwork by Hugh Thompson scattered throughout it's pages! There are about forty illustrations in the volume.

"Apparently in violent affliction"

And speaking of volumes, this edition is sadly not divided into it's original three volumes. Which may not matter to many readers (I didn't care at first), but it would be a nice addition when studying the book.

The afterward is written by Henry Hitchings, and contains some insightful looks at the text, although I don't agree with them all, particularly his opinion on Marianne and Colonel Brandon's happiness at the close of the novel.

The Collector's Library has printed all of Jane's novels, and I would recommend them all!