callmemadam (callmemadam) wrote,

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Learning to shop

What’s this, all dressed up and even titled, like a chick lit novel? It’s a serious social history of the development of the consumer society in the nineteenth century and my current non fiction read. Perhaps someone bought it in error and that’s how I was able to get this Fine/Fine copy in a local charity shop.

Judith Flanders is the author of The Victorian House, which was a bestseller and deservedly so: it is a fascinating glimpse into domestic history, full of details about Victorian housekeeping. The new book (it came out last year) is perhaps more overtly historical and so may not enjoy the same success. The author deals with the growth of a public hungry for entertainment (books, theatres, holidays) and for consumer goods of a kind previously unthought of. A large section of the book is a history of shopping, and very good, too. By the end of it, I am sure, the reader will understand the background to the lifestyle of Charles and Carrie Pooter.

I’ve only just started reading and am on The Great Exhibition of 1851. To reflect on the energy and enterprise of the Victorians, the speed with which the Crystal Palace was designed and built, the fantastic success of the whole venture, and then to compare it with the doomed Millennium Dome, or Wembley Stadium, or the Olympic waste of money, is enough to make you weep.
Tags: books, diary of a nobody, judith flanders, social history, victorians

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