Elegant Madness and Horrible Histories for August

For the month of August, we’re supposed to read a non-romance book from our TBR pile.  I’ve originally planned to review An Elegant Madness by Venetia Murray.  However, mid-way through it, I was sidetracked into reading The Gorgeous Georgians and The Vile Victorians by Terry Dreary and Martin Brown.

Well, both books discuss the Regency period, but boy they’re both so different and equally fascinating.  Let’s see …


Title: The Gorgeous Georgians and The Vile Victorians
Author: Terry Dreary and Martin Brown
Year published: 2005

Why did you get this book?
Since I read a lot of Regency romances, I figured this book would be a hoot. I mean, I’ve heard of the Horrible Science and the Horrible Histories series by Scholastic, so even though this book is aimed at younger readers, I couldn’t resist.

Do you like the cover?
It was a funny cover. So, yeah I guess it worked.

Did you enjoy the book?
Oh yes. I didn’t even know there’s a morbid side to my fascination with history until I picked up this book. The authors have absolutely no qualms about exposing the gruesome and the macabre truth of Georgians and Victorians lacking in personal hygiene, and the appalling conditions of the pitiful poor.  The wealth divide is simply too horrendous!!

There were fun quizzes, rotten recipes, weird and often gruesome, vicious villains and unbelievably revolting events to keep you entertained.  I sometimes find myself having to suspend belief, and resist cross checking it against the other book I was reading … but I did anyway

Are you keeping it or passing it on?
This is a keeper, for when my daughter gets older.

Anything else?
I’m tempted to read the Horrible Science series just out of curiosity.  By coincidence, there was a bookfair at my daughter’s school, and she bought a Horrible Science experiment — creating a volcano – so we’re looking forward to trying that out when school hols arrive (yikes! it’s next week!!)

Elegant Madness and Horrible Histories for August

Title: An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England
Author: Venetia Murray
Year published: 1999

Why did you get this book?
My fascination with Regency romance led me to order this book, which I suspect may be out of print.  What excited me was that the author drew some of her materials from the Royal Archives at Windsor and the Chatsworth Archives, as well as contemporary accounts, diaries, letters and memoirs of prominent figures from diverse backgrounds.

Do you like the cover?
The elegant cover gives this a hardcover book a decidedly feminine feel.

Did you enjoy the book?
Some of the chapters made for really interesting reading, particularly as I’ve already read about the social habits, the class consciousness of the Regency Georgians, so this book was more of an in-depth reading into the social history of that time. Where The Gorgeous Georgians was entertaining, An Elegant Madness was eye-opening.

The author would insert bits of ‘gossip’ by the ladies and lords of those times to give readers an indirect firsthand account of society. Then, there were the entertaining caricatures spoofing the ridiculous behaviour of the ton.

Are you keeping it or passing it on?
This book is so rare in my part of the world, so it’s definitely a collector’s item. Keep.

Anything else?
I’m going to have to trawl the forums, as Jolie (Mathis, has anyone read The Sea King yet? Kristie?) suggested back when I first drew up my reading plan for this challenge.  But of course, some of those have already been altered along the way.

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