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Scenes from London Life

by Maureen Waller

ISBN 1568582161 / 9781568582160 / 1-56858-216-1
Publisher Basic Books
Language English
Edition Softcover
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Book summary

Just the sort of book that gives history a good name, 1700: Scenes from London Life presents almost a glut of the kind of daily life (and death) detail which proves utterly engaging, striking chords of familiarity or describing almost unimaginable worlds. We discover where people lived and worked, how they behaved, what they wore and ate and how horrifically they suffered from illness and injury. A booming London appears modern in its commercialization and overt materialism. It was "the most magnificent city in Europe" yet "the streets were open sewers" and life there was so precarious that it might be described as "a mere prelude to death". The world of 1700 is brought vividly to life by imaginative vignettes drawn from the author's research and by excerpts from contemporary diarists, novelists and commentators, whose works are listed in the extensive bibliography. A relatively long book, it can be dipped into, as the chapters are thematically organized. In fact, open the book at any page and the intriguing detail will leap out and grab you. Creatively written, the text is so colorful that the slightly disappointing illustrations are not much of a drawback. This is a truly enticing read, exploring a period of significant development in London and clearly indicating the importance of this point in England's history. --Karen Tiley, [via]