More companions to my 19th century rehab reading and as I recounted I deemed it wise to start with a definitive tale of the Queen of them all, Victoria
I've dipped in and out of Queen Victoriana reading matter down the years.
A few biographies here and there, Queen Victoria that great big purple Cecil Woodham-Smith tome that the book clubs were doing years ago and must be on every shelf in the land as an "always meant to read" though I expect plenty of you have, just not me cover to cover.Her Little Majesty by Carolly Erickson another good one. I'm now well up to speed on Victoria.
Then off on a diversionary trail.
I was a cover to cover devotee of The Victorian House by Judith Flanders so have been looking forward to her latest book Consuming Passions Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain published last year and so far I'm not disappointed.The transformation of people's lives gradually centred around
"urban living, industrial employment, shopping and professional entertainment.The Industrial Revolution brought with it factories, railways, mines and machines. It also brought travel, department stores, leisure and pleasure"
and it will be interesting to see how, if at all, this is reflected in the fiction I plan to read.
The paperback now out and call me picky but I think it has a much nicer cover than the hardback.I'm noticing a trend for the predominantly sepia cover, the original old photo, tinted up with some bright neon colours and they don't do much for my eye.
As an aside I was interested to read in this book about the advent of W.H.Smith's "Newspaper Agents, Booksellers and Binder" business soon to become "Stationers, Travelling-case and Pocket-book Makers and Newsmen".
Obviously the confusion about what they sell in WHS is nothing new.
Ours is currently looking like a very tacky and bazaarish version of a fairground stall.Someone has gone beyond the "pile 'em up to the ceiling" strategy and added in "riot of colour" to the shop floor strategy. It's a complete and very garish assault on the senses and getting more horrific by the day. I won't be surprised to see vegetables in there soon and I would no more buy a book within its doors than eat squid's liver right now.
So much to distract out of the corner of your eye and barely any room for customers either, all hideously out of synch with expectations for 2007.
But I mustn't jest because never let us forget that one of the younger W.H.Smith's, the one born in 1825, attended school here in Tavistock and as I've told you before we have a blue plaque to prove it.
What's the betting even the WHS of 2007 haven't a clue about that?