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Reading Maketh a Full Man...

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Currently reading

The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medieval and Renaissance Literature (Canto)
C.S. Lewis
Boys and Girls Learn Differently!: A Guide for Teachers and Parents
Michael Gurian, Terry Trueman, Patricia Henley
Ambition and Survival: Becoming a Poet
Christian Wiman
Deep River: The Life and Music of Robert Shaw
Keith C. Burris
Daring, Trusting Spirit
John De Gruchy
The Vatican Diaries: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Power, Personalities, and Politics at the Heart of the Catholic Church
John Thavis
The Whisperers: Private Life in Stalin's Russia
Orlando Figes

Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England

Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England - Judith Flanders Ever wonder how the Victorians actually lived? This book uses the house plan as a method to show how life was lived in each room. Fascinating so far, and I've only gotten about 25 pages in!***************************************I cannot overemphasize what an enjoyable book this was to read. The author has taken books that were written by the great writers of the Victorian era (Charles Dickens, Beatrix Potter, Charles Darwin, John Ruskin), diaries and letters that they wrote, advertisements from local newspapers, and even "self-help books" of the time to give the reader a more accurate view of life in the days of Victorian England. The book is organized around each room in the house of an average middle-class Victorian family.The dining room -- Did you know why an entre is called an "entre"? Because the dish was already on the table when you entered (entre) the dining room to eat. Did you know why side dishes are called "side dishes"? Because they were placed on dishes at the sides or corners of the table when the table was laid out.The morning room -- Did you know that the average weight of the clothes worn by a Victorian woman was 37 lbs? They did not go out in the rain if they could avoid it, because when their clothes got wet, they weighed even more! Remember, an umbrella would not really protect your skirt, and waterproof clothing had not been developed. A list of clothing worn by a woman included:1. thick, long legged, long sleeved woolen combinations2. over them, white cotton combinations, with plenty of buttons and frills3. very serious, bony, grey stays, with suspenders4. black woollen stockings5. white cotton drawers, with buttons and frills6. white cotton "petticoat-bodice" with embroidery, buttons, and frills7. rather short, white flannel, petticoat8. long alpaca petticoat, with a flounce around the bottom9. pink flannel blouse10. high, starched, white collar, fastened on with studs11. navy blue tie12. blue skirt, touching the ground, and fastened tightly to the blouse with a safety-pin behind13. leather belt, very tight14. high button bootsThe kitchen and the scullery -- oh my. The smells, the unsanitary conditions, the BUGS! It fairly made my skin crawl to read this portion. Beatrix Potter wrote in her diary that when she visited her grandmother, her two servants slept in the kitchen, as was normal at the time. Both servants spent the night on the kitchen table because of the waves upon waves of roaches on the floor! The description of one all around maid working in the scullery washing the dishes from previous meals will stick in my mind forever. One one side, a haunch of beef hanging ready to be cut and used for cooking another meal. On the other side, an open urinal (chamberpot) waiting to be emptied.The bedroom -- again, oh my. The bugs, vermin, and back breaking work necessary to keep this room clean. Mattresses were of course made of totally organic material and bugs / vermin / bed bugs feasted upon the stuffing within those mattresses. Beatrix Potter wrote about a trip where she stayed in a local hotel. There were bedbugs in the mattress on the bed, so she slept on top of the bed completely clothed and only after she had dusted the entire bed with an anti-bed bug powder remedy. She mentioned how difficult it was to sleep with this anti-bug powder all in her hair. The sheer amount of back-breaking work that was carried out every day merely to clean, wash, cook, and dress is staggering. I have never been one to moon over the good old days, and I certainly won't now either! Thank the Lord for indoor plumbing, kleenex, washing machines, and our weekly trash pickup by the city!!!