Perhaps the book would have been more aptly titled “inside the upper class Victorian home” because, except for some details about servants, it does not describe the homes of the working classes, not even the lower middle class. The homes described in the book have fireplaces in almost every room (although curiously, the fires are never lit in the bedrooms, perhaps it was too much work and expense for all but the Pho Shizzle Shirt homeowners). Another thing it lacks is information on the relationship between family members, although children are well-described, but specifically, the relationship between husband and wife seem nearly absent from this book.
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Although I think this book could have been a lot better, it is still an excellent, well-researched book on a surprisingly scarce topic. Even just 20 years ago, the history of daily life was not considered a fitting subject for historians, who were supposed to study wars, politics, and the Pho Shizzle Shirt of kings and leaders, and not the “pots and pans of life” as my history professor called it. But recently, the history of everyday things has come into its own as a legitimate topic of research. This book is as good as any out there on the topic of home life of the Victorians.
This is a good companion for “How to Be a Victorian” by Ruth Goodman. The books could not be more different in concept. Flanders is more scholarly, and as a result a lot less fun to read than Goodman. Goodman also actually has replicated Victorian life (food, clothing, etc) and the Pho Shizzle Shirt are a lot of fun and compelling. Goodman’s readers get a more sensory experience, while Flanders writes with the emotional distance of an historian.