Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England by Amanda Vickery

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RATING: 4.5/5

BLURB: “The Georgian house is a byword for proportion and elegance, but what did it mean to its inhabitants? In this brilliant new work, Amanda Vickery unlocks the homes of English men and women, from the Oxfordshire mansion of the unhappy gentlewoman Anne Dormer  in the 1680s to the dreary London lodgings of the bachelor clerk and future novelist Anthony Trollope in the 1830s. With her customary wit and verve, she evokes the interiors of a wide range of homes, introducing us to genteel spinsters keeping up appearances in two rooms, professional couples setting up home in rented houses, widowers frantic to the keep their households afloat without a mistress and servants with only a locking box to call their own.”

REVIEW: This is undoubtedly one of my favourite works of non-fiction that I have read so far and, being a history student, I have read quite a few! Vickery manages to make a subject that, in the wrong hands, could be so dull and dry into a witty, engaging and lively narrative, using absorbing case studies and vivid description to make the Georgian home come to life in the minds of readers. While many non-fiction works – particularly works of historical non-fiction, which of course often involve lots of dates and frequently a number of statistics – often make the reader feel as though information is simply being thrown at them, Vickery’s work reads almost like a novel, allowing the reader to absorb and process the information without feeling like they are being force-fed with it. I also really enjoyed the way Vickery uses works of literature written in the Georgian period – particularly the works of Jane Austen, one of my favourite authors – to support her information, using their descriptions of the home to add an extra layer to her absorbing narrative. I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this book, being a complete novice to the Georgian period – once I had finished the book, however, I felt not only very well-informed but also very glad to have found such an enjoyable way of taking in this new information. I received Vickery’s other non-fiction work, ‘The Gentleman’s Daughter’, alongside this book for Christmas, and am greatly looking forward to reading it!

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