Book Review - July

After a quick scan of the last few book reviews, I thought I would provide a non-weaving related review for all of those out there tired of weaving. Currently, I'm working on two projects, one of which involves researching a series set in the Georgian era of the 1740s. Originally, the series was set in the 1760s, but due to some other research and reading, I opted to move it back right before the Jacobite attempt in 1745. One of the books I'm using to research the series is A Great and Monstrous Thing: London in the Eighteenth Century by Jerry White.

The book begins with two architects: James Gibbs and Robert Adams providing a general overview of the century including how the city expanded from the late Tudor/Stuart time into London as we know it now. After the first two chapters, he dives into four more parts: People, Work, Culture and Power. Each of the remaining sections involves someone's London for example, under people the first chapter is Samuel Johnson's London - Britons. Under Power, he has a chapter called The Fieldings' London - Police, Prison and Punishment. While the entire book is helpful, this later chapter I find especially good for my current book.

I will admit that this is the second time that I've borrowed the book from the library. It is a rather large book (560 pages with another hundred pages for notes, bibliography and index), but I'm finding that it is worthwhile working through the book. The first time through the book, I went for the chapters that I needed ... then I learned that I needed a larger overview of the era since my knowledge of the Regency era didn't always translate well a hundred years earlier.

A few items for those who want to read the book: it centers on London and its environs. This book is best suited for a general overview of the Eighteenth Century, or London in particular. If you want to focus on the Jacobites or something in Ireland, this might not be the best. This book, however, gives you an excellent cross-section of the London at the time, without resorting to the upper levels of society too often. Personally, for me, the emphasis on non-nobility is part of what I enjoy about the book. I don't write about the upper classes; not to say that I haven't or that the series won't wander into that world, it's just not the emphasis. Since the series I'm writing focuses on the middle-class and lower sort of world of the Eighteenth Century, this book provides the information that I need. Besides, one can always find the information one needs in another book.

Therefore, I would recommend that you read A Great and Monstrous Thing: London in the Eighteenth Century because it provides an interesting light on London at the time.


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