I love reading historical novels set in 19th century England. But as much as I love to read them I am sometimes stumped about what the characters are talking about, wearing, eating, or doing and why they are choosing to wear, eat or do that particular thing. Sometimes I just skim past what I don't know and sometimes I try to puzzle it out. I figured out what a reticule was on my own but it wasn't till this book that I understood what a pelisse is. Even watching Downton Abbey, I knew when an estate was entailed that it was not good for the wrong survivors but I had no idea what an “entail” actually was or why such a thing would exist (except maybe to further the plot of many a book) so I was happy to find the wonderful What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew to help answer all my questions. It is filled with so much information and so wonderfully told that you can read it straight through or you can dip in and out as the spirit moves you. Either way, once you read it your enjoyment of novels from this time or about this time will be greatly enhanced.
Arranged by category, and with an amazing glossary that is worth the price of admission, the author lays out every issue and answers almost every question you could have about what life was like for Oliver Twist, Jane Eyre, the Bennett sisters and those myriad Romance heroines who fill the country houses and townhomes of England.