How To Be a Victorian: A Dawn-to-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life

Liveright: Norton. Oct. 2014. 464p. photos. index. ISBN 9780871404855. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780871408532. HIST
OrangeReviewStarWake up. Place your feet on the cold floor. Next, quickly wash with water before venturing outside to the streets of London. It's a typical Victorian morning and Goodman, historian and presenter of the BBC documentary series Victorian Farm, aims to share it with readers. The author is an insightful escort to the past, having lived the Victorian life as closely as someone in the 21st century possibly can. In this title, Goodman uses personal experience, along with a wealth of delicate research, to take readers through everything involved in an average Victorian day, including brutal factory work, long train rides on uncomfortable seats, and hurried strolls through choking smog. Goodman skillfully creates a portrait of daily Victorian life with accessible, compelling, and deeply sensory prose. Her personal interjections say less about how the Victorians lived and more about how a modern woman would survive in the age of Queen Victoria, but Goodman's having conquered the corset and brushed her teeth with soot adds depth that isn't often seen in similar titles.
VERDICT The material is compulsively readable, and a necessary addition to all collections with a focus on Victorian culture.
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