We all know that the best way to study a foreign language is to go to a country where it's spoken, but can the same immersion method be applied to history? How do interactions with antique objects influence perceptions of the modern world?
From Victorian beauty regimes to 19th-century bicycles, custard recipes to taxidermy experiments, oil lamps to an ice box, Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman decided to explore 19th-century culture and technologies from the inside out. Even the deepest aspects of their lives became affected, and the more immersed they became in the late Victorian era, the more aware they grew of its legacies permeating the 21st century.
In her first book, Victorian Secrets, Chrisman recalled the first year she spent wearing a Victorian corset 24/7. In This Victorian Life, Chrisman picks up where Secrets left off and documents her complete shift into living as though she were in the 19th century.
©2015 Sarah A. Chrisman (P)2015 Tantor
The book is interesting and intriguing even if it is full of every simile you could possibly come up with. By the time there was 2 or 3 hours left I was bored with it - even still I don't feel like it was a waste of time. I appreciate this woman's ability to not care what others may think and pursue a passion. My biggest gripe is with the narrator. I wanted to rip my ears off just so I wouldn't have to listen to her voice and plethora of mispronounced words.
I absolutely loved this book! It was fascinating from beginning to end. Now I am ordering Victorian Secrets by Sarah so my nineteenth-century adventure can continue. I can't get enough!
You don’t have to read too fare before you realize the author and her husband’s adoption of Victorian era technology and customs is as much a product of their strange and awkward personalities as their love of history. If it hadn’t been period reenactment they would have adopted some other “look at me I’m special, different and misunderstood” lifestyle like religious fundamentalism or full body tattooing. Occasionally you do get some interesting insight into late Victorian life but you have to wade through a lot of ultra-trite memoir style impressions from her daily life. It doesn’t help that she attempts to write in a style reminiscent of her favorite time period and falls quite a bite short with her arcane and needlessly elaborate vocabulary.
Also, the narrator seems a totally inappropriate choice for a first-person account of a young woman’s thoughts and impressions. I get the sense the author is in her mid-30’s but the narrator is 20 years older and with her pinched, schoolmarm vocal style is more suited to reading to very young children than adults.
If you are looking for a truly engrossing historical commentary on everyday life check out Bill Bryson's "At Home". It ranges from the medieval to the Victorian era and is incredibly well researched and entertaining.
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