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Literary fiction, classics, dystopian, history, memoir, prize winners, and of course the 1001 books. You really might catch me reading anything!

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Empire of Cotton: A Global History
Sven Beckert
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The Victorian City

The Victorian City: Everyday Life in Dickens' London - Judith Flanders

Judith Flanders did an amazing amount of research for this book—on Dickens' life, within his books, in first-person accounts, and in other novels of the time. And this book is fascinating, though I think anyone will find some chapters to be a little less fascinating, though those chapters will depend on the reader's interests.

 

I love Dickens's novels, at least for the most part (I do not find The Pickwick Papers funny at all, though Flanders did make me aware that I simply don't know the timely meaning of many of Dickens' words and even what he is necessarily referring it.

 

But back to this book. I loved the first 6 chapters, found section 3 to be less interesting to me personally, and enjoyed the last chapter as well.

 

But I also read this book with a personal slant. My 3rd great grandparents lived in Westminster, on Drury Lane, and in the parish of St George the Martyr (Camden) between 1835 and 1853 (when they immigrated to Illinois via New York). My 2nd great grandfather was christened at the Queen St Chapel, St George the Martyr, in 1849.

 

And these places are on the maps Flanders has included. And the maps are great—I wished there were more, or that more of the places mentioned in the text appeared on the maps, especially street names.

 

And though I would have appreciated more maps, I found the weakest—or the most frustrating—part of this book to be the notes. The notes are arranged as endnotes. Kind of. They are not marked or noted in the text. So in order to follow along in the notes, you must constantly flip back and forth. Or read all of a chapter's notes at the end of a chapter. Very frustrating, because they are less "note" and more "straight citation, only with some commentary sometimes, and you'll want to read that".

 

Highly recommended for fans of social history, Dickens, London, and 19th century history.