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Publisher's Summary

Like her previous books, this book is the result of the author's passionate interest in the realities of everyday life, and the conditions in which most people lived, so often left out of history books.

This period of mid-Victorian London encompasses a huge range of subjects: Victoria's wedding and the place of the royals in popular esteem; how the very poor lived, the underworld, prostitution, crime, prisons and transportation; the public utilities, Bazalgette on sewers and road design, Chadwick on pollution and sanitation; private charities, Peabody, Burdett Coutts, and workhouses; new terraced housing and transport, trains, omnibuses, and the Underground; furniture and decor; families and the position of women; the prosperous middle classes and their new shops, e.g. Peter Jones, Harrods; entertaining and servants, food and drink; unlimited liability and bankruptcy; the rich, the marriage market, taxes and anti-semitism; the Empire, recruitment and press-gangs.

The period begins with the closing of the Fleet and Marshalsea prisons and ends with the first (steam-operated) Underground trains and the first Gilbert & Sullivan. All the splendours and horrors of Victorian life will be vividly recalled.

©2005 Liza Picard (P)2005 Orion Publishing Group Ltd.

Critic Reviews

"Reading her book is like gazing at one of those energetic, crowded canvanses by the Victorian painter William Powell Frith." ( Evening Standard)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Zaubermond
  • 27-05-2018

Unforgettable journey into the past

This title was an accidental discovery: I found it while searching for something narrated by Anton Lesser. I decided to try it, knowing I'd like anything performed by someone to whom I could listen were he to read Inland Revenue regulations aloud.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the book is not only narrated beautifully, but well written, fascinating, and highly entertaining.

If you enjoy the minutiae of history, this is great stuff. Go ahead and double that if you're already familiar with London. Ms Picard brings the city to life in truly unforgettable detail. I've studied a lot of English history, but I've neglected the Victorian era in favor of other periods. This book reminded me how much reading I've yet to do. That's a real treat with this kind of history: it leads you onward to still more discoveries.

I know this is a sign of getting old, but I find myself more and more unable to deal with people whinging and moaning about absolutely nothing. I'd like to put every snowflake (and helicopter parent and anyone else lacking what used to be known as a backbone) into a room with this book and let them listen until they could consider their blessings.

I enjoyed it so much I picked up the other three titles offered by Ms Picard. If they are as good as this, I'll be in for a triple treat. I recommend it without hesitation.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Heather
  • 09-08-2006

Brilliant

This is by far one of the most insightful thorough books ever written on Victorian London. Liza Picard describes every aspect of life in this era. Packed full of fascinating facts and holds the reader from start to finish. I was sorry when it ended.

28 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Nicholas W. N. Jones
  • 12-07-2007

Puts Dickens in a very real context

This is a wonderful supplement to any reading of Victorian fiction - here is the background. Though the book depends perhaps a little too much on one or two particular sources (hence four stars, not five), this is vivacious, informative, and fascinating. It is beautifully read - Anton Lesser imparts the most complex information is a way which makes it all easy to follow.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Nicholas
  • 12-07-2007

Puts Dickens in a very real context

This is a wonderful supplement to any reading of Victorian fiction - here is the background. Though the book depends perhaps a little too much on one or two particular sources (hence four stars, not five), this is vivacious, informative, and fascinating. It is beautifully read - Anton Lesser imparts the most complex information is a way which makes it all easy to follow.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dee Jay
  • 07-04-2013

Concise but evocative

This book really brings early Victorian London to life, and Anton Lesser's voice is so relaxing and easy to listen to. It's a pity the book has been abridged for the audio version, though. I would have liked to hear all of it, hence the four rather than five star rating.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • iris
  • 19-07-2011

London as we never knew it!

This book is full of fascinating information about how London was from its dark underbelly to its glittering court. It is especially good at appealing to all the senses through its use of choice images. The narrator's pace is excellent and his voice is very pleasant to listen to. I enjoyed learning about how ordinary men and women coped during this period of rampant industialization and growth.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Cynthia
  • 03-04-2016

Absolutely Fascinating

Unable to stop listening. Beautiful narration and full of interesting detail about life in Victorian times.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • caroline
  • 11-03-2011

victorian london

very informative and interesting, a great insight into victorian london

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Joseph
  • 26-03-2009

Victorian London

Good narration & an exellent insight into Victorian Social history in London - highly recomended

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • 21-01-2009

victorian london

this book gives a real insight to the grime of everyday life in victorian london to the extent that you can almost taste it especially the description of dogs turd used in the tanneries at bermodsy, the book drtaws you into the depths of london giving real insight into housing education and sanitation in victorian london

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Robert
  • 04-08-2012

Excellent

Completely devoid of any academic "stuffiness", Liza Picard's well-researched, informative book is instantly accessible, and almost conversational in style.

The opening ten to twenty minutes provides us with a pretty honest, graphic account of Victorian London's poor sanitation and overflowing sewage system, with reference to the constant smell of human and animal excrement, decaying food and rotting carcasses. She does not indulge in gratuitous sensationalism, just gives us the truth in plain language. That said, probably best not to start listening to this while having dinner !

2 of 3 people found this review helpful