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Publisher's Summary

While 1858 in London may have been noteworthy for its broiling summer months and the related stench of the sewage-filled Thames River, the year is otherwise little remembered. And yet, historian Rosemary Ashton reveals in this compelling microhistory, 1858 was marked by significant, if unrecognized, turning points. For ordinary people, and also for the rich, famous, and powerful, the months from May to August turned out to be a summer of consequence.

Ashton mines Victorian letters and gossip, diaries, court records, newspapers, and other contemporary sources to uncover historically crucial moments in the lives of three protagonists - Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Disraeli. She also introduces others who gained renown in the headlines of the day, among them George Eliot, Karl Marx, William Thackeray, and Edward Bulwer Lytton. Ashton reveals invisible threads of connection among Londoners at every social level in 1858, bringing the celebrated city and its citizens vibrantly to life.

©2017 Rosemary Ashton (P)2017 Tantor

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • A. Taylor
  • 30-05-2018

More Dickens than history

While the book was interesting, it tended to focus on Dickens for long periods rather than other figures or the overall history. Since his life is well known already, this seemed unnecessary.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Keith
  • 17-11-2017

One Hot Summer

3.5 stars: I very much enjoyed this book. It examines the summer of 1858 and the months that surround that summer to delve into London in that period in a social history. I liked the idea of telling history from the news bulletins of the period, minutes of events, and the letters of the principle cast. In fairness it does not develop any very significant connections between the three great figures and / or much connect to the heat wave itself but I felt this was not a loss as such. Would have liked more on the Atlantic telegraph pole.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Tommy
  • 17-12-2017

Good in parts

Informative and highly entertaining in parts but I found it disappointingly dull and disjointed in parts too.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful