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The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England

The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England - Ian Mortimer Have you ever wondered what people in Elizabethan England ate, what they built their houses out of, how they spoke, or what they did for entertainment? This book answers all of those questions and more, giving you a picture of daily life that many other history books leave out. Every aspect of Elizabethan life is covered in detail, with sections covering topics from religion to entertainment. Particularly unique is the inclusion of information on the lives of the middle and lower class.

I found the first chapter of The Time Traveler’s Guide a little hard to get through. The description of the landscape made me hold details about what was in all directions in my head at once and it made it hard to see the big picture. If you experience the same thing, don’t let that deter you! The rest of the book flew by. Topics described were easier to picture and I found the glimpse I got of every day life in Elizabethan England fascinating. I particularly liked that the author would say things like “if you went up and spoke to one of those peasants…” or “as you’re walking down the street, you’ll most likely see…”. It made me picture being there very vividly.

Another really nice touch was the inclusion of specific information known about real people. The statement “farmers kept most of their money invested in live stock” is far less interesting than hearing that “John Smith kept cows, sheep, and pigs that were worth most of his monetary value”. These examples made the information feel much more real, personal, and immediate. The direct quotes provided the finishing touch on the immersive experience this book provides. Some quotes were explained so well that humor transcended time, an impressive feat given how hard it is to translate humor across cultures. Overall, the many details, the quotes, the inclusion of the reader in the scenes described, and the personal touches made this the perfect book for getting a feel for the Elizabethan Era.

This review first published on Doing Dewey.