I very much enjoyed reading Ruth Goodman’s How to be a Victorian and no, I definitely do not want to be one.
This well-researched book explores daily life in nineteenth century England, covering everything from clothing and hygiene to medicine and food.
Goodman is basically a professional Victorian and has experienced nineteenth century living firsthand. She has even gone so far as to not bathe with water for four months, instead practicing dry bathing. She said nobody noticed, but perhaps she just knows a lot of polite people… Anyway, while the material is encyclopedic, the book is easily read cover to cover and suited to both an academic and popular audience. The chapters on personal grooming, health, and leisure were what I enjoyed reading the most.
As with many history books, I am reminded once again how much reading about the past makes me appreciate the present. I definitely don’t want to be a Victorian, but I have to admit, I sure wouldn’t mind dressing like one for a few hours…