by Ruth Goodman
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About the Author-
- Ruth Goodman is the author of multiple books on English domestic history, among them How to Be a Victorian and How to Be a Tudor. An historian of British life, she has presented a number of BBC television series, including Tudor Monastery Farm. She lives in England.
January 25, 2016
Utilizing substantial research and her own experiences as an occasional historical re-enactor, Goodman (How to Be a Victorian) delves into the nuances of the daily lives of the average English person living during the era of the flashy, fraught Tudor court. She matter-of-factly starts and ends the chronicle with the sleeping area, but includes surprising details about clothing, food production, education, and more as she navigates the course of one 24-hour period. Goodman offers simple but thorough explanations of how things work—whether rope-strung beds or common, reliable hygienic practices—while still entertaining readers, making note, for example, of how her knowledge of the era’s linguistics heightens her own enjoyment of Shakespeare’s bawdiness. In fact, her participation in 15th-century bread-baking and other period activities offers specific insight on where previous historians and popular depictions have erred, especially regarding long-held notions of poor hygiene and invariably sedate dancing scenes. Although there’s some discussion of the English Reformation’s impact or other court-led legal changes, the emphasis remains on the ordinary and very practical people often overlooked by other Tudor-centric historical examinations. Throughout, Goodman’s palpable enthusiasm and clear appreciation for the resourcefulness of the era’s people make these men and women entirely relatable and yet full of surprises. Illus.
- If you wear linen undergarments and scrub your armpits briskly each morning, you won't smell as bad after a month without bathing as you might imagine. Historian and author Ruth Goodman knows this because she tried it out, saving us potential social embarrassment while providing both entertainment and education. Narrator Heather Wilds starts out rapid-fire and overenunciated, as if she's determined to make listeners sit up straight. But within a few chapters, Goodman's humor and enthusiasm, and the factual delights--no underpants!--loosen Wilds's delivery. After that, listeners benefit from her pleasant, even voice and the knowledge that in the 1500s archery practice after church on Sunday was considered a man's patriotic duty. A.C.S. � AudioFile 2017, Portland, Maine
April 15, 2016
Historian Goodman (How To Be a Victorian) specializes in the Tudor and Victorian periods of history, serving as a consultant to museums, heritage attractions, and screen productions such as the recent adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. Additionally, she appeared in the BBC2 series Tudor Monastery Farm. Goodman meticulously researches primary documents (e.g., wills, cookbooks, public records) to reveal the intricacies of the daily life of the period, and if she doesn't understand how something specific worked in Tudor times, she re-creates the conditions and attempts to duplicate the situation. Goodman, who capably narrates, shares her experiments in activities ranging from bread baking to starching the huge ruffs that were so popular with men and women. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and listeners will be enthralled by her stories of different types of plows, irrigation, marriage rites, and other details, such as the mandatory possession of a bow and arrow by males from the age of seven, Sunday archery practice was a pastime akin to Sunday golf, and styles of clothing were dictated by law. VERDICT Highly recommended for those who love social history and England. ["Goodman describes lifestyles she's lived herself; that personal commentary is something readers will not find in other histories": LJ 2/1/16 review of the Liveright: Norton hc.]--Cheryl Youse, Moultrie, GA
Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
- Wall Street Journal If the past is a foreign country, we're lucky to have such a knowledgeable cicerone as Ruth Goodman.
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