A Year in Books/Day 134: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew

  • Title: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew From Fox Hunting to Whist-the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England
  • Author: Daniel Pool
  • Year Published: 1993 (Simon & Schuster)
  • Year Purchased: 1994
  • Source: A gift from an ex
  • About: This book is history-light. Don’t get your knickers in a knot, as that is rarely a bad thing! Although I love weighty, intellectually demanding tomes like a kid loves candy, lighter fare inhabits its own cozy corner of my heart. It took awhile for that to happen. Even as a pre-teen, I was (perhaps unnaturally) concerned with running out of time in which to read the world’s literary classics. Yes, I truly thought about such things as an eleven-year-old. As I thought that time was-a-wastin’, I wasn’t about to devote my precious allotment to “lesser” reading. Eventually, I discovered history books of the pop culture variety. I ate volumes whole, on a variety of history-related topics: fashion, art, film, photography. This led me down the lovely, informative and fun path that is littered with books like What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: well-researched, well-written and highly readable books devoted to popular and general history subjects. I have a preference for the Elizabethan and Victorian eras, with the Jazz Age coming in a very tight third. These are my idea of “beach reads”. Now, I’ll turn to the book at hand. Nearly every aspect of daily life that the average person could find interesting is discussed and dissected within its pages: etiquette, currency, society, marriage, kids, death, clothing, food, commerce, orphans, maids, “lesser folk”, crime, rural life, urban living, sex, balls, dinner parties, hygiene, occupations…..There is a handy glossary for those new to the era and its terms. Although not ground-breaking or revolutionary, it’s engrossing enough that it demands your attention from start to finish.
  • Motivation: It was a gift from someone who was trying to woo me. Unfortunately, it worked (for a time) because, obviously, books are a way to my heart. This gift was so perfect that it blinded me to all common sense and logic. Or, so I’d like to think.
  • Times Read: 2
  • Random Excerpt/Page 134: “In England in 1800 one could be hanged for sheep stealing, sodomy, murder, impersonating an army veteran, stealing something worth more than five shillings from a shop, treason, doing damage to Westminster Bridge, and about two hundred other offenses. (Killing a man in a duel, although murder, was considered socially okay for people of quality, so juries generally didn’t convict until the 1840s. Thereafter it became advisable to duel on the Continent, as Phineas Finn does.)
  • Happiness Scale: 9 1/2
    Charles Dickens

    Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia) has some things he would like to share with you.


1 thought on “A Year in Books/Day 134: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew

  1. Pingback: The Little Things | I Chose the Blue Pill

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