Monday, April 18, 2011

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew

What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist -- The Facts of Daily Life in 19th Century England. Daniel Pool. 1994. Simon & Schuster. 416 pages. 

I enjoyed reading What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew. I enjoyed reading about various aspects of life in 19th Century England. I won't lie. There were chapters and sections more appealing, more interesting than others. (I'll admit to "skimming" the sections on lawyers.) But, for the most part, I enjoyed it. I liked all the bookish references. I would say most--if not all--sections reference at least one or two British authors. Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, of course, but also including Anthony Trollope, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, etc. (Sadly, he does not include Elizabeth Gaskell or Wilkie Collins.) He takes the time to name specific characters and situations from specific books to highlight and illustrate social customs. Readers may not be familiar with all of these characters, and sometimes what he says about a book could be considered spoilerish. But since these are books that have been around over a hundred years, keeping things spoiler free isn't a necessity.

This one is in two parts. (I read the first part. The second part is a glossary.) As you can see, it covers a little bit of everything--both public and private.

The Basics:
  • Currency, 
  • The Calendar, 
  • Hogsheads and Drams: English Measurement, 
  • England, 
  • London.

The Public World:
  • Precedence: Of Bishops, Barristers, and Baronets,
  • The Titled,
  • How To Address Your Betters
  • Esq., Gentl., KCB., etc.
  • Status: Gentlemen and Lesser Folk
  • Society: Society and "The Season," Basic Etiquette, How To Address the Nontitled, "May I Have This Dance?', The Rules of Whist and Other Card Games, Calling Cards and Calls, 
  • The Major Rituals: Presentation at Court, The Dinner Party, The Ball, The Country House Visit
  • Money: Being Wealthy, Entail and Protecting the Estate, Bankruptcy, Debt, and Moneylending
  • Power and the Establishment: The Government, Britannia Rules the Waves, The Army, The Church of England, Oxford and Cambridge, Schools, "The Law Is An Ass," Lawyers, Crime and Punishment

  • The Horse
  • Please, James, the Coach
  • The Railroad
  • The Mail

The Country:
  • Life on the Farm
  • The Midlands, Wessex, and Yorkshire
  • Who's Who in the Country
  • Shire and Shire Alike: Local Government in Britain
  • "The Theory and System of Fox Hunting"
  • Vermin, Poachers, and Keepers
  • Fairs and Markets

The Private World:
  • "Reader, I Married Him"
  • Sex
  • An Englishman's Home
  • Houses with Names
  • Furniture
  • Lighting
  • How the English Kept Clean
  • "Please, Sir, I Want Some More."
  • Pudding!
  • Tea
  • Drink and the Evils Thereof
  • Women's Clothing
  • Men's Clothing
  • Servants
  • The Governess
  • A Taxonomy of Maids
  • Victorian Recycling

The Grim World:
  • The Orphan
  • Occupations
  • Apprentices
  • The Workhouse
  • Disease
  • Doctors
  • Death and Other Grave Matters

And if you'd like to read Jane Austen or Charles Dickens for the Classics Circuit blog tour, you've still got through tomorrow--April 19th--to sign up!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Jillian 11:57 AM  

Such a useful book!! I read it a couple years ago and learned SO MUCH about England. Of course, at that time, I'd never read anything by Dickens or Austen.

I love how you paired this with the Dickens/Austen circuit. :-)

scotlandprincess 5:51 PM  

My English professor hated that book, I've read it and it isn't all that accurate.

Annette 9:51 PM  

I read this book a few years ago and thought it was really interesting.
I learned too a lot of about life in the 19th Century--England.

Carrie K. 11:37 PM  

I really enjoyed this one, too - such a useful reference tool. :)

Lector Benevole 9:02 AM  

Sounds like a good book! I don't know much about that period of English history. :)

mel u 7:42 AM  

I read this book a few years ago-I also found it a very useful book-I like to know basic information about how people lived, what the ate etc and this book has a lot of good data-I enjoyed your post a lot

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP