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This Victorian Life: Modern Adventures in Nineteenth-Century Culture, Cooking, Fashion, and Technology

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Part memoir, part micro-history, this is an exploration of the present through the lens of the past. We all know that the best way to study a foreign language is to go to a country where it's spoken, but can the same immersion method be applied to history? How do interactions with antique objects influence perceptions of the modern world? From Victorian beauty regimes to ni Part memoir, part micro-history, this is an exploration of the present through the lens of the past. We all know that the best way to study a foreign language is to go to a country where it's spoken, but can the same immersion method be applied to history? How do interactions with antique objects influence perceptions of the modern world? From Victorian beauty regimes to nineteenth-century bicycles, custard recipes to taxidermy experiments, oil lamps to an ice box, Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman decided to explore nineteenth-century culture and technologies from the inside out. Even the deepest aspects of their lives became affected, and the more immersed they became in the late Victorian era, the more aware they grew of its legacies permeating the twenty-first century. Most of us have dreamed of time travel, but what if that dream could come true? Certain universal constants remain steady for all people regardless of time or place. No matter where, when, or who we are, humans share similar passions and fears, joys and triumphs. In her first book, Victorian Secrets, Chrisman recalled the first year she spent wearing a Victorian corset 24/7. In This Victorian Life, Chrisman picks up where Secrets left off and documents her complete shift into living as though she were in the nineteenth century.


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Part memoir, part micro-history, this is an exploration of the present through the lens of the past. We all know that the best way to study a foreign language is to go to a country where it's spoken, but can the same immersion method be applied to history? How do interactions with antique objects influence perceptions of the modern world? From Victorian beauty regimes to ni Part memoir, part micro-history, this is an exploration of the present through the lens of the past. We all know that the best way to study a foreign language is to go to a country where it's spoken, but can the same immersion method be applied to history? How do interactions with antique objects influence perceptions of the modern world? From Victorian beauty regimes to nineteenth-century bicycles, custard recipes to taxidermy experiments, oil lamps to an ice box, Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman decided to explore nineteenth-century culture and technologies from the inside out. Even the deepest aspects of their lives became affected, and the more immersed they became in the late Victorian era, the more aware they grew of its legacies permeating the twenty-first century. Most of us have dreamed of time travel, but what if that dream could come true? Certain universal constants remain steady for all people regardless of time or place. No matter where, when, or who we are, humans share similar passions and fears, joys and triumphs. In her first book, Victorian Secrets, Chrisman recalled the first year she spent wearing a Victorian corset 24/7. In This Victorian Life, Chrisman picks up where Secrets left off and documents her complete shift into living as though she were in the nineteenth century.

30 review for This Victorian Life: Modern Adventures in Nineteenth-Century Culture, Cooking, Fashion, and Technology

  1. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Farley

    I loved the history, but couldn't get past the precious writing style. I loved the history, but couldn't get past the precious writing style.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John

    I had my doubts at first, but the further along I got in the story, the more I liked it. Chrisman writes very well, rarely venturing into deep-in-the-weeds territory of her fixation. She has a good sense of humor regarding some of her attempts, such as making her own mattress to fit their new non-standard sized Victorian bed, baking bread (The Brick), etc. Being a western Washington resident, and a fan of travel narrative, I was fascinated by her tale of riding her Victorian bicycle 65 miles eac I had my doubts at first, but the further along I got in the story, the more I liked it. Chrisman writes very well, rarely venturing into deep-in-the-weeds territory of her fixation. She has a good sense of humor regarding some of her attempts, such as making her own mattress to fit their new non-standard sized Victorian bed, baking bread (The Brick), etc. Being a western Washington resident, and a fan of travel narrative, I was fascinated by her tale of riding her Victorian bicycle 65 miles each way to visit a friend in Bellingham; later, her husband accompanies her on a repeat cover of the route to a book signing engagement. It's obvious that they have a landline at home, and (likely) internet for all her browsing/purchasing she mentions, which makes sense as she runs a massage business as well as being a writer, so needs to be able to deal with clients, and they did have phones in the 1890s. Towards the end, she mentions that they're acquiring a Victorian stove, but are using the electric one that came with the house until then (which she resents). Much of the book is taken up with how they handle lighting (mostly using oil lamps), and clothing, and some other matters. She says she's very happy doing almost everything in a Victorian method, though having read about doing laundry back then, I'm not completely convinced - she doesn't mention that, nor working without a vacuum cleaner. At first, I wasn't sure if her husband, Gabriel, was humoring her to an extent. However, as he appears more fully towards the end of the book, he's even more dedicated to this than she is (this comes up on their bike trip). He has a full time job requiring a car (she doesn't drive), and is implied to wear modern-ish clothing for it. Her first book, which received ... not-so-generous reviews, centered on her wearing corsets; I didn't read it, nor am I tempted to do so now. That leads to a rather unfortunate situation which is brought up late in the story: as her waist is so narrow, men feel free to touch her to see if it's "real"! She says she's required to actually fend them off at times. The couple also receive hate mail, and are called freaks at times. I prefer to leave it that most locals find them eccentric (as do I ), but basically a nice couple. As far as a rating goes, I waivered between three and four stars, opting for the higher number as Laural Merlington does such a great job with the narration. One reviewer felt the book ended abruptly, but I figure that it may be just a place to stop while she arranges more material for another one. I'd be very interested in hearing more.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Yaaresse

    I thought this would be a fun read with lots of details about 19th century tools, clothing, households, etc. Maybe it's in there somewhere, but I barely made it through the sample. The book starts off with a defensive tone, which is a really strange way to start a book given the reader is probably interested in and sympathetic to the topic since s/he picked up the book. That was off-putting, rather like getting yelled at as soon as you walk in the door for something you didn't do and knew nothin I thought this would be a fun read with lots of details about 19th century tools, clothing, households, etc. Maybe it's in there somewhere, but I barely made it through the sample. The book starts off with a defensive tone, which is a really strange way to start a book given the reader is probably interested in and sympathetic to the topic since s/he picked up the book. That was off-putting, rather like getting yelled at as soon as you walk in the door for something you didn't do and knew nothing about. It then veers into a supercilious lecture about how modernity is such a bother and Victorian life was so much more gentile and refined. The later part seems to be based on romanticized notions of corsets and silk skirts, bicycles and steam trains, snug winter nights by the fire in beautiful old houses, etc.-- in other words, all the niceties of the late 1800s for educated affluent white folks. I'm guessing they aren't quite so quick to embrace (or even acknowledge) the more gritty aspects of 19th century life that was reality: racism, sexism, nativism, epidemics, poorhouses, child labor, Native American wars/massacres, criminalization of deviant behavior...that last one is a little ironic given the author has far more leeway to live a non-conformist lifestyle in 2017 than she would have had in the period she prefers. Maybe she finally made it to the some good stuff about everyday life and recreating the vintage life, but it was taking a long and unpleasant path through a lot of angry justification to get to it. I gave up. Tangentially, I don't know what the heck it is about Port Townsend, but this is the second book I've picked up in the last month written by a PT resident that has that combination martyr-snob tone. I always assumed it was a pleasant (if touristy) little town, but based on the tone of these two books, it seems to now be the capitol of the Republic of the Special Snowflake Martyrs.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    It’s all too easy to romanticize the past, and that is exactly what Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman make their life doing. To say the least, they have an unconventional lifestyle. They live like Victorians, abandoning modern comforts and conveniences for antiquated technology. Sarah documents this living experiment in this memoir. It all started with a corset. For Sarah’s 29th birthday, Gabriel gave her the controversial undergarment and it didn’t take long before Sarah wore it regularly and fully ado It’s all too easy to romanticize the past, and that is exactly what Sarah and Gabriel Chrisman make their life doing. To say the least, they have an unconventional lifestyle. They live like Victorians, abandoning modern comforts and conveniences for antiquated technology. Sarah documents this living experiment in this memoir. It all started with a corset. For Sarah’s 29th birthday, Gabriel gave her the controversial undergarment and it didn’t take long before Sarah wore it regularly and fully adopted Victorian dress. Sarah chronicled this experience in her last memoir, Victorian Secrets. Years later, Sarah and Gabriel have completely fallen down the Victorian rabbithole. Their newly-purchased Victorian home in Port Townsend, WA becomes a time portal where they warm themselves by kerosene heaters, read Victorian periodicals under oil lamps, and store their perishables in an icebox. But it doesn’t stop there. Sarah makes all her clothes (by hand!) and even constructs a custom mattress to accommodate their Victorian bed. The memoir makes for an interesting read as Sarah strives to provide context to the many artifacts they’ve incorporated into their lives. However, her patronizing tone detracts from the book’s limited positive aspects. She is continuously defensive. We get it, Sarah – you are tired of people reacting so critically to your unusual lifestyle... As a fan of all things Victorian, I definitely understand why Sarah and Gabriel are drawn to this period and its artifacts. It’s easy to admire the architecture, fashion, and technology and so much of modern life we owe to the Victorians. But never for a moment would I wish to live a Victorian life. You keep “standing up for the past,” Sarah. I’m perfectly content to be amused at a distance.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Coller

    This is the kind of book I really love and, in fact, this was one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time. However, the author's attitude was a big turn off for me. In several cases throughout the book, Chrisman discusses some of the negative attention they receive for living an out-of-the-norm lifestyle. Granted, this is part of her describing their reality so I wasn't irritated that she brought it up, I was more annoyed by her attitude about it when I thought about my own experi This is the kind of book I really love and, in fact, this was one of the most interesting books I've read in a long time. However, the author's attitude was a big turn off for me. In several cases throughout the book, Chrisman discusses some of the negative attention they receive for living an out-of-the-norm lifestyle. Granted, this is part of her describing their reality so I wasn't irritated that she brought it up, I was more annoyed by her attitude about it when I thought about my own experience. When I opened up Facebook the next day to find another article on them based solely around the fact that people are mean to the Chrismans, it just rubbed me the wrong way. I, too, live an out-of-the-norm lifestyle. I have nine children whom I homeschool. I choose to wear long skirts and long hair and remain unemployed. I drive an enormous van. People stare and lift a finger to count when we drive by. I get all kinds of snotty comments, rude questions, and invasions on my privacy and lifestyle. What I've found over the years is my defensive actions and snotty comments back only feed the fire. The meaner I am back to people like this, the more attention I give them, the worse it is for me. Once I started holding my head high and refusing to apologize for my choices, I was amazed at how people started complimenting and encouraging us. All that to say, when all I see on this couple is them complaining to the media about not being accepted in a society that promotes diversity, (a phrase she repeats on multiple occasions in her narrative) it lowers my esteem for them quite a bit. In Victorian society, one conformed to the norm or one was ostracized by every so-called decent member of society. I guess what I'm trying to say is if one is going to take the road less traveled, one must be prepared for the opposition. Discussing the disappointment privately is appropriate---complaining to the media and expecting people to conform to what suits you is not. (See Butchart Gardens story). Now on to the less-bad bits. Besides all the atheistic or pantheistic nods to humanism, macro-evolution, and other ridiculous notions, the author presented herself as an intelligent woman. For the most part, the narrative was well-written. In fact, I had a long discussion with my husband about how publishers and editors really need to hold authors to a higher standard concerning grammar and subject matter. Almost everything I read nowadays is dumbed down to the level of a fourth grader. One would argue that this is the reading level of the average American adult in these times---I would argue back that rising standards usually result in those who will rise up to meet them. Chrisman is obviously well-read---her voice makes that clear. I was encouraged to seek out some of the earlier novels and nonfictions in hopes of finding other intelligently written material. In fact, I'm off to my favorite used book store this morning to do that very thing. Regarding the editing and photography---part of me wants to say the book could do with some serious editing and professional photography; part of me finds it endearing that she would have a friend do her photos. She obviously looks very joyful and at peace in her photos---something she may not have done with a more professional set up invading her space. As for editing, I always blame that on the publishing company. They're being hired and trusted to present her in the best light---authors must hold paid editors to a higher standard. I admire the Chrismans' research on so many things: the Hershey's company, cycling, and some very interesting bits regarding the regulation of time and why timepieces are made with jewels. I'd always wondered about some of these things and Chrisman does an excellent job explaining the whys. I loved all her talk of settings as we are from the Pacific Northwest and enjoyed a brief spell of living in Skagit County near Deception Pass and the Chuckanut Drive that she describes. I know this area well and was able to imagine all the places she described. We spent a lovely morning in her town of Port Townsend, one day about seven years ago, admiring the Victorian homes on our way to pick up our Yorkie. I think the thing that just left a sour taste in my mouth was how the author presented herself. Besides the previously mentioned issues, there were a few times when I thought she was either seriously exaggerating a situation or she was just an awfully snobbish and self-righteous boor. She has a way of making others "less learned" than she seem like pitiful simpletons. When describing a memory of ladies chatting about cell phones in a restaurant, she actually describes herself running from the table and spewing her tea into a bathroom sink because she was laughing so hard at their ignorance. Either she is an absolutely obnoxious and immature human being or she has a vivid imagination. Either way, nothing disfavors someone in my eyes more than snobbish, know-it-all behaviour. On a positive note, my good opinion once lost is not lost forever so within ten minutes of finishing the book, I had purchased her previous book, Victorian Secrets and it should be arriving before the week is out. The good and useful definitely outweighed the annoying with this one and I'm looking forward to reading more about this unique and beautiful life the Chrismans are building together. Taking off one star for an author who's a bit too big for her britches and another star for poor editing.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Em

    In some ways this was a fairly enjoyable read, with some interesting insights, but overall the author's attitude ruined it for me. I liked the discussions on using various household items and the insight into aspects of daily life in the 19th C. I thought that it was well-researched and the idea of living a (white, straight, upper-middle class) 'Victorian' life seems really interesting and fun, although not for me. However, I disliked the uncritical romanticisation of the era and the lack of ackn In some ways this was a fairly enjoyable read, with some interesting insights, but overall the author's attitude ruined it for me. I liked the discussions on using various household items and the insight into aspects of daily life in the 19th C. I thought that it was well-researched and the idea of living a (white, straight, upper-middle class) 'Victorian' life seems really interesting and fun, although not for me. However, I disliked the uncritical romanticisation of the era and the lack of acknowledgement of the horrific elements of the period they so love. There was no mention of the dark side of the era: racism, sexism, child labour and terrible working conditions with no safety regulations, high child mortality rates, endless pregnancies for women, homophobia, etc etc, not to mention the lack of modern medicine and scientific knowledge. Although I didn't need an extended discussion on these issues (the parts I liked best were about running the home, using oil lamps etc and I recognise the focus of the book was about the domestic side of life) I would have had more respect for the author if she had shown at least a glimmer of awareness. I would also have liked some discussion of some of the questions this lifestyle raises- do the couple still use modern medicine or are they relying on Victorian-era science? Do they put all property and money in the husband's name? Does Sarah vote? Etc. Etc. The lack of acknowledgement on these issues was worsened by the author's comparison between her own experiences of being treated rudely for her choice to live like a Victorian with the discrimination and bigotry people of colour or LGBT+ people face. This comparison was extended with the ridiculous notion of modern people being 'bigoted' about people of the past. Although we can certainly stereotype people from the past (which, I have to say, this couple seem to be doing themselves with the picking and choosing of the bits they like) of course they are not being discriminated against! They're dead so what would they care? Comparing that to the real struggles of living people in an unfair society is foolish and insulting, especially with all the author's talk about how hard it is to be different (by choice) and how mean people are about this 'diversity' (living like Victorians). Overall, the book has some charm and points of interest, and I would be willing to read more from the author if she actually addressed these issues in a frank, honest way.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Steven Belanger

    I first became interested in reading this book while I was researching books about living in Victorian New England. I found a clip online of a modern man looking like a Victorian man jumping on the back of a two-wheeled Victorian bicycle and then sort of leap-frogging to the top of the gigantic front wheel. Beneath this clip was an article that was itself mostly well-written, but angry towards this modern / Victorian man. The gist of the articles anger can be summed up by saying the writer was p I first became interested in reading this book while I was researching books about living in Victorian New England. I found a clip online of a modern man looking like a Victorian man jumping on the back of a two-wheeled Victorian bicycle and then sort of leap-frogging to the top of the gigantic front wheel. Beneath this clip was an article that was itself mostly well-written, but angry towards this modern / Victorian man. The gist of the articles anger can be summed up by saying the writer was pissed off at the attitude of the bicycle man and his wife. The wife, as it turned out, wrote this book. So I read the book hoping for New England Victorian-era stuff and got current-day Washington state married couple living like they're in the Victorian Era, but with the internet and other conveniences. I have to admit that I also read it to see what the article writer was so pissed off about. So this couple wants to mostly pretend they live in the Victorian Era, minus all the horrible class and racial struggles that went on, and forgetting that they wouldn't be able to live where they do (on the Puget Sound) because that wasn't part of America yet, and they'd have to displace indigenous Indians to live there. But I have some Victorian things around here (an 1895 drum table; two 1870s chairs; an 1890s rocker with the original leather headrest and seat, and pins in the leather, and some 1888 Old Judge tobacco baseball cards) and I love certain homey-like, fantasy aspects, like woodstoves, and candlelight, etc. I read this thinking it would be another example of some eccentric but determined people trying to live their lives as they wish, and modern America not leaving them alone. I was ready to appreciate what they do, and to defend them. While I do (mostly) appreciate what they're trying to do, and while I do steadfastly defend their right to do it, I have to say with regret that the article writer had a point: Chrisman's (and, to a lesser extent, her husband's) tone and attitude are irksome, and the way she states things, and the way she is able to devote an incredible amount of time to things like bread-baking, sewing, and looking for those little ornamental things that hung off women's clothing--well, he was right: her tone is terrible, and it will at least make you annoyed, if not outright angry. Chrisman isn't so much fascinated by the Victorian Era as much as she is horrified by the present era. She runs to the later Victorian Era, I suspect, because it's the newest oldest era we could still mostly retreat to. There is a lot of attitude towards modern technology (of which I am also not a complete fan, as I believe it we have let it further ostracize and de-humanize us) and towards modern people. This is fair enough, as far as it goes, except that she also needs the modern reader to read her books and blog, as that's how she makes the majority of her income. (She also seems to have an at-home massage business. She mentions this once or twice, but never once refers to a client. Left unanswered is whether she would massage the client in her Victorian wear.) A further point raised by the many upset people on the internet (and this does, in fact, seem like overkill, despite the Chrisman's tone and attitude) is that she never refers to the horrors of Colonialism of the Victorian Era, whether it be the American's treatment of African slaves or American Indians, or the British conquest of lands and the virtual annihilation of those lands' people. Though I suspect that the average Victorian never gave a thought to the slaughter of whales, for example, that provided much of the oil that lit their sconces, as a self-proclaimed expert and living historian of the time, she should have at least touched upon it. She never does. And so it all comes across as play-acting as life, or of a lifestyle in a vacuum. Yes, she uses Victorian iceboxes, and heaters, and bicycles, and clothing, and furniture, and so on--but it seems like she's maybe a Victorian Era Barbie, and these are all of her props and toys. It seems a willfully narrow life. And more than a little bit, it's a big, giant ef-you to this modern era and to everyone (besides her friends) in it. She never once touches upon that, either. So this is a tunnel-visioned memoir. Having said all that, there's a lot of really interesting things in here, if you're interested in history, or in the Victorian Era, or in trying to at least a little bit live like that era, or to understand the similarities and differences between that era and ours. You may find, like I did, that you don't need to read long chapters about finding Victorian buttons, let's say, but it's okay to skip some pages every now and then. I don't normally advise this, but I had to skip over the occasional off-puttingly toned sentences, and so I was already skipping. By the way, I'm guessing that Chrisman does not realize she produces this tone in writing. And if she does it in writing, she'll do it when talking, as well. Because she does not seem aware of her tone, or of people's response to it, or of social cues and such, I do suspect an at least slight disorder, such as Asperger's. She reminds me of a time in which a high school kid told me she didn't like her English teacher because this teacher didn't realize how offensive she was when she talked to her students. This teacher, apparently, thought she was simply communicating, but actually she was consistently offensive. (I happened to know the woman this kid spoke of, and I'm tellin' you, the kid was spot on.) Anyway, Chrisman strikes me as someone very much like that. She'd be offensive and off-putting and not know it. She's the one at a party (though she would not go to parties) who you want to get away from, but you can't because she does say some interesting things every now and then that makes you stay to listen to her talk (at) you some more, which then makes you regret immediately that you've done that. She's an obviously talented internet researcher (which is a very heavy irony she never addresses). If you're reading this book, you'll be interested in much of the information she provides. A lot of it I already knew from my own research, but there was a lot I didn't know. For instance, her inclination to only buy from companies around since Victorian times will give you a surprisingly long list of such companies. She also goes into some interesting local and natural history. And this is really the closest I've seen of a living person trying to live as a Victorian, including all of the daily nuances and problems that only living like that, and not just researching living like that, can give you. Chrisman does mention the hatemail they get, and the vicious ill-behavior they have to suffer through, which she says happens on a literally daily basis. I'm not surprised by this, and you probably won't be, either. It only re-fuels their fire to get away. Though I was annoyed and sometimes borderline angry at the tone and attitude shown by the author and her husband, this also made me angry. Why can't we just leave each other alone? They're eccentric, and perhaps a little off-putting, but, hell, can't we all just get along? So, yeah, a mixed bag here. Sometimes I had to put the book down in annoyance because I just couldn't take the tone anymore, but I always picked it back up again, curious about what new interesting thing I might learn next. If you read this in that vein, it'll be productive and worthwhile.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cricket Muse

    The title caught my eye as I passed the new book shelf at the library. Since I teach English literature I couldn't resist reading a modern perspective of the Victorian era, a time period that greatly influenced our present era. I found the book enchanting, and I'm usually not fond of non-fiction, especially memoirs. Yet, Chrisman is a gifted wordsmith, especially in her descriptions: preface--"Too many academic historians view the past as a dead thing to be dissected and then encased in glass." T The title caught my eye as I passed the new book shelf at the library. Since I teach English literature I couldn't resist reading a modern perspective of the Victorian era, a time period that greatly influenced our present era. I found the book enchanting, and I'm usually not fond of non-fiction, especially memoirs. Yet, Chrisman is a gifted wordsmith, especially in her descriptions: preface--"Too many academic historians view the past as a dead thing to be dissected and then encased in glass." This answers the "why" she and her husband have dedicated themselves to not only study the Victorian era, but to live it. Another noted phrase: "Power outages silenced the television and put the vulturine eyes of all the myriad blinking devices to sleep (2). On letter writing: "There is an intimacy to physical letters that cold pixels cannot match"(p.122). Further info: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/art...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Interesting idea and worthwhile experiment in living historically, but aggravating book. Ms. Chrisman comes off as annoyingly provincial and naive. I expect people trying to recreate bygone technologies to expound upon finding how to rebuilt and use such things, such as her adventures in sewing her own mattress to fit and antique bed. However, the Victorians weren't really that long ago and many technologies aren't lost at all...canning and fountain pens, for example. Her descriptions of the bum Interesting idea and worthwhile experiment in living historically, but aggravating book. Ms. Chrisman comes off as annoyingly provincial and naive. I expect people trying to recreate bygone technologies to expound upon finding how to rebuilt and use such things, such as her adventures in sewing her own mattress to fit and antique bed. However, the Victorians weren't really that long ago and many technologies aren't lost at all...canning and fountain pens, for example. Her descriptions of the bumbling effort taken in learning these skills were infuriating. In her effort to be as authentic as possible she appears to forgo the advice of modern people using these items everyday...fountain pen 101, from any modern pen enthusiast welfare, includes the advice not to leave your implements in the sun and to cap it if you put it down for even a second. Don't get me started on her pages about how Victorian block ice is apparently chemically different from block ice from the grocery store. And that's another thing. We know from her descriptions of the town (Port Townsend, one of my favorite day trips) that there are 2-3 grocery stores in town. She goes out of her way to avoid stating the names of these stores (Safeway, QFC, the usual sorts of supermarket chains), instead using convoluted sentences referencing that her husband got the nuts from the same store where they bought the ice. I would suspect this comes out of some urge on her part to write more "Victorian-y" or avoid appearing like she endorses one brand of grocery over another, however, (1.) I don't see what relevance it has that the nuts came from the same store as the ice, who cares, and (2.) in the very next paragraph she will discuss by name some brand of bicycle that is still around from Victorian times. Lots of grocery stores had early beginnings too, so this seems like a strange and stilted blind spot. These blind spots are everywhere in this book. She has obviously done a ton of research into the time period, as she should, but she seems to have blinders on for almost everything else. Don't get me started about the ice, I swear. Still, glad I read it. It is providing excellent dinner table conversation. And, like I said, I hope she does keep up the experiment. I'm just hoping she has a collaborator or more writing guidance for the next book. Which I will probably read, because I am ever hooeful. And because I might be a sucker.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I chose this book because I found the idea quite interesting but Mrs. Chrisman comes across as VERY pretentious. Up to chapter 16 it was tolerable because the chapters flowed well enough together to tell a story but chapter 16 was just too self-important and unnecessary. (It is a very short chapter in which nothing happens and we learn nothing more than that she was asked to sit for multiple portraits because she was so pretty and intriguing. Ugh. It was just so pompous.) After that, each chapte I chose this book because I found the idea quite interesting but Mrs. Chrisman comes across as VERY pretentious. Up to chapter 16 it was tolerable because the chapters flowed well enough together to tell a story but chapter 16 was just too self-important and unnecessary. (It is a very short chapter in which nothing happens and we learn nothing more than that she was asked to sit for multiple portraits because she was so pretty and intriguing. Ugh. It was just so pompous.) After that, each chapter felt more forced and singular and it just didn't flow as smoothly; perhaps I was just tired of Mrs. Chrisman's sense of superiority. The last few chapters of the book are all about their bikes which really don't warrant that many pages and again comes across as very arrogant. I also have to wonder about a few 21st-century things they can't really do without but which she never mentions. They do have a car but she never talks about what it is or the upkeep, she has a home-based massage business but never mentions how she takes appointments (phone? website, which means she must have a computer?), she never discusses money (do they use a bank or keep it in a tin can on the shelf? do they have investments, save for retirement?), and she never talks about medical care (advances in medicine have come along way since 1899). In the opening of the book she talks about how this is a lifestyle for them, not just a hobby, but it sort of feels like maybe they pick and choose what aspects of the Victorian life they're going to embrace.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    The topic and their commitment-priceless. The writing style is quite verbose and has a LOT of needless details so the book is really bogged down. Their experiments and choices are fascinating and I did learn a few things but I wanted so much more and instead got a lot of useless details (pages and pages about plumbing in their house,etc.) that has nothing to do with a victorian life but just owning a home. She says she runs a business out of their house but then writes nothing else about it. How The topic and their commitment-priceless. The writing style is quite verbose and has a LOT of needless details so the book is really bogged down. Their experiments and choices are fascinating and I did learn a few things but I wanted so much more and instead got a lot of useless details (pages and pages about plumbing in their house,etc.) that has nothing to do with a victorian life but just owning a home. She says she runs a business out of their house but then writes nothing else about it. How does that work? How do you market a business without current technology? These are things I'd be curious about. I was surprised to hear that they receive some ribbing and threats where they live because of their lifestyle choice. Seems like it's quite harmless to me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Leigh St John

    Magical! I not only love and admire the author and her husband for their devotion to my favorite time period, but also adore her writing style. Thank you for another glorious glimpse into your living convergence of two worlds.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Abby Borsato

    While I did not hate the writing and found parts of her story interesting, I couldn't get past her pretentious and at times smug attitude throughout her narrative. I also disliked her comparisons of the criticism she has faced to racism and found her defensive manner in this way to be tasteless. While I did not hate the writing and found parts of her story interesting, I couldn't get past her pretentious and at times smug attitude throughout her narrative. I also disliked her comparisons of the criticism she has faced to racism and found her defensive manner in this way to be tasteless.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Beth Ann

    Full of interesting information, though the author's writing becomes a little precious at times. Full of interesting information, though the author's writing becomes a little precious at times.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Virginia

    The author really needs to stop comparing herself, and the way she is treated because of her lifestyle choices, to minorities experiencing racism.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Helena

    I really enjoyed this author's book Victorian Secrets so thought I would like this one as well. I admit that I skimmed a bit during her descriptions of bicycle touring, but other than that I found this book quite interesting. I love visiting living history sites and learning from re-enactors how things from the past worked, especially domestic things, so I find the author's lifestyle fascinating. Her discussion on how well authentic antiques work (versus modern replicas) was particularly interes I really enjoyed this author's book Victorian Secrets so thought I would like this one as well. I admit that I skimmed a bit during her descriptions of bicycle touring, but other than that I found this book quite interesting. I love visiting living history sites and learning from re-enactors how things from the past worked, especially domestic things, so I find the author's lifestyle fascinating. Her discussion on how well authentic antiques work (versus modern replicas) was particularly interesting--as she points out, that's the sort of thing you might not notice unless you use an object how it was meant to be used.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sheryl Tribble

    A considerable improvement over her first book. She still pokes fun at people for not understanding her chosen lifestyle, but much more gently, and the proportion of pertinent information is much higher. I agreed with her from the first that using objects from earlier times as a daily thing will teach far more about them – and about daily life in those times – than reading or otherwise speculating about “what it was like” will, and this book provides numerous examples of that sort of thing, whic A considerable improvement over her first book. She still pokes fun at people for not understanding her chosen lifestyle, but much more gently, and the proportion of pertinent information is much higher. I agreed with her from the first that using objects from earlier times as a daily thing will teach far more about them – and about daily life in those times – than reading or otherwise speculating about “what it was like” will, and this book provides numerous examples of that sort of thing, which is lovely. I would say the book as a whole is well written. She had me totally confused at the beginning of the chapter on Port Townsend, though, when she treats the hopes of the locals as if they were realistic. She says, “By the late 1880s, everyone foresaw Port Townsend taking its rightful place as the thriving metropolis of the Northwest. (This role would eventually be filled by Seattle, but at this time the future Emerald City was still a muck-mired mill town populated by drunken loggers….)” According to her write up, “what more natural terminus could there possibly be for a rail line than the location of the customs port?” But on the map at the head of the chapter, originally printed in 1870, Seattle is clearly considered the dominant city of the time, with Steilacoom (a bit south of Tacoma) as the only challenger. Port Townsend is not only tiny, it’s isolated out on a peninsula on the wrong side of Puget Sound for a good railway connection. Whatever the claims of the local chamber of commerce, anyone who sat down and looked at the situation would have known these hopes were unrealistic. Which may have been her point, since she concludes, “Then the bubble burst,” but for a couple of pages there I thought she was expecting me to buy into that line of reasoning, and I’m still not dead sure she wasn’t. The other time she had me scratching my head is when she’s grumbling about having to use “soft ice” rather than the more authentic hard ice. Their house is wired for electricity – why don’t they freeze their own ice? You can get a functional freezer for under a hundred bucks, an upright doesn’t take much space, they could put it a shed or a garage, and just use it to make hard blocks of ice. We freeze our own ice all the time, because purchased ice is expensive and melts faster. Since ice delivery is out of the question, seems to me the Chrismans doing the same would be as authentic than what they’re doing now. And it would sure save them some money in the long run. I was also surprised, and a bit disappointed, that she hadn’t switched over to a wood stove yet. I would have thought that one of the “easier” changes, since I’ve run across so many people who are making no serious attempt to “live like a Victorian” who still have, and use, a wood burning kitchen stove. I suppose they’re more into the cooking aspect of that lifestyle than this author. None of these gripes are big issues, obviously. Overall I was quite pleased with this book, especially in light of how disappointed I was in her corsets one. While this is also more of a memoir than a historical resource, it was interesting, there were a couple of tips I hadn’t run across before, and I found it much more enjoyable. This one, I thought, lived up to what it promised.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Zephyr

    I was very interested in the premise of this book, and I hoped to learn about Victorian life or at least about how they make their pseudo-Victorian life fit into the modern day. What I got was a soap-boxing about how their way of life is better than anyone else's, and frequent insults directed towards other groups of people. Even in the prologue, historical reenactors who dare to wear costumes that aren't manufactured by historical/period methods are compared to abusive parents beating a helpless I was very interested in the premise of this book, and I hoped to learn about Victorian life or at least about how they make their pseudo-Victorian life fit into the modern day. What I got was a soap-boxing about how their way of life is better than anyone else's, and frequent insults directed towards other groups of people. Even in the prologue, historical reenactors who dare to wear costumes that aren't manufactured by historical/period methods are compared to abusive parents beating a helpless child (the child being history that 'can't defend itself' from the evils of people wearing inaccurate costumes). I mean, what? Whaaaat? I tried to keep going after that, but all I got was weird autobiographical anecdotes about her life, rants similar to the one about the reenactors, and a lot about why they decided to live in a Victorian style. But there's nothing really about HOW they do so, or how they make it work, or what exactly living like a Victorian entails.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Andrianna

    This certainly had interesting parts, but overall I am so unimpressed with the author's attitude. I remember this from another book of hers that I read - she seems to feel both superior to and somewhat persecuted by people living modernly. Maybe I'm just reading too much into her tone and she's doesn't actually feel that way, but that's how her writing comes across to me. I find it very offputting. I did like all the details about Victorian life, and I do think the author and her husband are liv This certainly had interesting parts, but overall I am so unimpressed with the author's attitude. I remember this from another book of hers that I read - she seems to feel both superior to and somewhat persecuted by people living modernly. Maybe I'm just reading too much into her tone and she's doesn't actually feel that way, but that's how her writing comes across to me. I find it very offputting. I did like all the details about Victorian life, and I do think the author and her husband are living in an interesting way.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Samantha

    Beautiful but left me with questiond I have so much respect and adoration for this couple who have found such perfect partners to live out life as their best selves. I wish that the author would have discussed how to deal with menstruation and birth control. That is something I would like to know about going from the 21st century to Victorian times. Overall, I've learned a lot and loved this read! Beautiful but left me with questiond I have so much respect and adoration for this couple who have found such perfect partners to live out life as their best selves. I wish that the author would have discussed how to deal with menstruation and birth control. That is something I would like to know about going from the 21st century to Victorian times. Overall, I've learned a lot and loved this read!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Beverly Hollandbeck

    Good thing these two people found each other and married. The author and her husband are such Victorian era aficionados that they buy a big Victorian house and decide to live as if it were 1890, eschewing electricity, automobiles, and modern clothing. She even dons a corset. OK for them, I guess, but I do find it ironic that they order authentic Victorian items on the internet.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mia Parviainen

    It's not often that tone becomes a distraction when I'm reading narrative nonfiction. Over the course of Sarah A. Chrisman's research, explanations, and episodes, her tone wavers from amusing descriptions of Victorian living to defending her life decisions to romanticized defiance of the surrounding world. Chrisman writes in themed chapters about her and her husband's attempts to bring as many elements of life in the Victorian 1880s-1890s as possible into their daily living. They wear handmade r It's not often that tone becomes a distraction when I'm reading narrative nonfiction. Over the course of Sarah A. Chrisman's research, explanations, and episodes, her tone wavers from amusing descriptions of Victorian living to defending her life decisions to romanticized defiance of the surrounding world. Chrisman writes in themed chapters about her and her husband's attempts to bring as many elements of life in the Victorian 1880s-1890s as possible into their daily living. They wear handmade reproductions of period clothes on a daily basis. They heat their home with kerosene and use an ice box to store food. They look for period furniture and products (or products from companies with a Victorian era pedigree) to set up their home life. At a glance, it's amusing, as Chrisman writes about attempting to calculate the quantity of feathers required for making her own mattress. It's enlightening, as she notes how Victorians had access to scented ink for writing. She describes the advantages and challenges of riding an Ordinary (big wheel) bicycle. There are some fun tidbits to learn, and she's at her best when she seeks to enlighten and open up a world to readers, emphasizing that we understand the past more when we engaged with it tangibly. However, Chrisman's adoption of living for Victorian ideals is akin to friends who take on restrictive type of living as THE way to go--think of your friends who take on that restrictive diet, or only buy products with certain virtues, or must recycle/compost all the things. Or that friend who adopts a romanticized view of how the world would be better by adopting the use of a particular product or program. These products and programs aren't necessarily bad things, but sometimes the restrictive decision is accompanied by a definitive tone that sets the speaker against the world. Chrisman seems somewhat aware of this tendency in the first chapter when she explains why she doesn't drive a car: "I saw no reason to devote a large portion of my income to a machine whose role seemed to consist of fouling the air, eliminating exercise, and occasionally murdering squirrels and pussycats. I also admit that there was a certain degree of mulish stubbornness at work." None of these reasons are necessarily wrong, but Chrisman sets herself up for the moral high ground, where the highest good is all things Victorian. Victorian for the sake of Victorian. Towards the end of the book, Chrisman notes that she and her husband have received hate mail and she often deals with people invading her personal space to touch her, ask questions, and take photographs. While I want to be sympathetic, I feel a bit of cognitive dissonance; I don't believe people should have their personal space violated in any situation, and I find it sad that she is receiving hate mail. However, she also seems to frequently complain that people seeing her in Victorian garb will stop her to ask questions or take pictures or look at her oddly. If we see someone in period attire, it's often for a museum, event, or display--museum patrons are often encouraged to ask questions--so the reactions of pedestrians doesn't seem entirely out of order, until it passes into the invasion of personal space and hostility. Chrisman alludes to "vitriol" that she's been subjected to, and at times I wonder if that has set her tone more towards romanticized defiance than delighted discovery and sharing--because there are many voices in narrative nonfiction that do this well. I wish Chrisman kept her writing voice more in that range. Who should read this book: those curious about the Victorian era, those who dream of being re-enactors, those who want to live in the Victorian era, fans of the Pacific Northwest.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sobriquet

    I found this at times very funny and some details very interesting, such as the curls on a pitcher being to rest your thumb on rather than just merely decorative or that mobile phones can magnetise a watch or the story of baking a loaf of rye bread so dense that it remained intact after throwing it out of eight story window There were other things that I wish had been included such as did Chrisman try to copy Victorian copperplate with her fountain pen? How did she fine trying to use a dip pen? I found this at times very funny and some details very interesting, such as the curls on a pitcher being to rest your thumb on rather than just merely decorative or that mobile phones can magnetise a watch or the story of baking a loaf of rye bread so dense that it remained intact after throwing it out of eight story window There were other things that I wish had been included such as did Chrisman try to copy Victorian copperplate with her fountain pen? How did she fine trying to use a dip pen? What Victorian novels does she read? What about a trial of Victorian beauty products? What about sun cream was there a Victorian equivalent? Has she ever tried to make jewellery from human hair like the Victorians or does she think it’s really gross? Chrisman relates a story of an overheard conversation between two mothers complaining that their teenage children were continuously using their mobile phones. The mothers say that this is a new problem created by modern technology and Chrisman disagrees that the Victorian inventions of the telephone and the telegraph caused parallel intrusions into family life and that therefore this experience is not new. While I agree with Chrisman I wanted more detail, what about the abbreviations used in telegraph messages? Were there discussions that correct use of English would be lost? Did people speak in acronyms to the same extent as they do now? Mobiles allow access to encyclopaedias of information and the ability for someone to create a profile page with timelines like diary pages that document their lives complete with accompanying photos. Furthermore this is at an affordable cost to most people. This is surely new. It was not that I disagreed with her point and I think that is a good one, it was just that I wanted more detail. The anecdotes of her interesting life were made longwinded by that lack of a good edit. At times the extra detail added realness to the stories but often they felt over complicated by it I recommend this book and should one be written I would read the sequel; I would like to know how she is getting on with her Victorian stove.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

    Fascinating idea: living as the Victorians did, as much as possible in the modern age. Not for me though. I'm glad these two people found each other to live the life they both apparently want. Sarah makes her own clothes, sewing them by hand even though sewing machines existed in their chosen period of late 19th century. She documents their further immersion into the lifestyle, in this book beginning with the purchase of a home built in their target date of 1889. Port Townsend, Washington is a go Fascinating idea: living as the Victorians did, as much as possible in the modern age. Not for me though. I'm glad these two people found each other to live the life they both apparently want. Sarah makes her own clothes, sewing them by hand even though sewing machines existed in their chosen period of late 19th century. She documents their further immersion into the lifestyle, in this book beginning with the purchase of a home built in their target date of 1889. Port Townsend, Washington is a good choice of location. It kept many of the buildings of their time period, not replacing them with more modern structures because there was no need. Chapters are: A home of a distinct form; Thanksgiving; Settling in; Our new/old city; The house - furnishing it; Maligned plumbing and a beautiful toilette set; A detail as fine as a hair; The Brackens (the original family who rented the house); Ghost stories; Writing (with a period fountain pen and ink); The Book of Household Management (Mrs. Beeton's book); An exotic flavor; Our daily bread; Chestnut shrapnel, pure evil, and a few sweet delights; A problem that didn't exist in the 19th century and a treat that did; Portrait; Communication parallels; Chatelaine; Pocket watches; Science matters and outdoor outings; Strength and how to obtain it; An Ordinary bicycle (a high-wheeler); Woman's cycle; My first adventure in cycle touring; Wheeling; A typical day. Along the way they acquire a real icebox requiring ice to keep things cold and the epilogue ends with the acquisition of a period kitchen stove. They do order things because Montgomery Wards and Sears made that available in their time period, though not through the internet.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    I think it’s important to remember a couple key points about the author. First, she and her husband live all aspects of their life as closely to Victorian times as they can. I think this is reflected in the tone and style of her writing, overall. While she uses many phrases that are modern and her pacing is modern, the overall tone of her writing lends to a Victorian novel feel. Secondly, she is, in fact, also a published novelist. While this book is technically a memoir, her tendency to write as I think it’s important to remember a couple key points about the author. First, she and her husband live all aspects of their life as closely to Victorian times as they can. I think this is reflected in the tone and style of her writing, overall. While she uses many phrases that are modern and her pacing is modern, the overall tone of her writing lends to a Victorian novel feel. Secondly, she is, in fact, also a published novelist. While this book is technically a memoir, her tendency to write as a novelist is strong within this book. Recreating conversations with an abundance of detail would come naturally to her. She also strikes me as the type to keep a handwritten diary of her daily life (in fact, I believe she alludes to this). If this is so, she will have a much stronger connection to detail while recalling these events in her life. I really enjoyed the look into the Chrisman’s life and how they’ve managed to make this dream become their reality. The book is part memoir, part history lesson and research. While there are a few photos in the book, I found myself looking up more photos as I came across interesting ideas and items. I also found Sarah’s YouTube channel and her website very helpful when trying to visualize or understand more fully some of the things she discusses. I did not find Sarah to be uppity in her manner, as other reviews imply. I think she truly amuses herself and tries to spread that joy. And I think her passion for the time period and the joy she finds in researching and living her life as she does is difficult for her to contain. Perhaps, to some, it comes off as defensive and know-it-all?

  26. 4 out of 5

    Heather Adams

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. In reading the reviews of this book, I’m somewhat surprised that no one mentioned the part where the author takes a dead bird that’s been murdered by one of her neighbor’s cats to disembowel and use to feather her hat. She’s a life long vegetarian, yet spends almost an entire chapter complaining about how many deer there are in her backyard and she therefore can’t have a garden, and she complains that they’re not allowed to shoot them. Pretty sure they had fences in 1898, Sarah. Or is it 1899? S In reading the reviews of this book, I’m somewhat surprised that no one mentioned the part where the author takes a dead bird that’s been murdered by one of her neighbor’s cats to disembowel and use to feather her hat. She’s a life long vegetarian, yet spends almost an entire chapter complaining about how many deer there are in her backyard and she therefore can’t have a garden, and she complains that they’re not allowed to shoot them. Pretty sure they had fences in 1898, Sarah. Or is it 1899? She and her husband are very specific in the era in which they pretend to pretend to live in. Or a dog to chase away the deer? She and her husband seem to spend a lot of time making things more complicated than they need to be in order to justify their dependence on modern life. She makes a point of saying she doesn’t like being gifted things from the Victorian era because she has such specific tastes. She talks about the items they’ve purchased for their home in excruciating detail. She’s not a particularly skilled writer. She tries very hard, and it shows. She comes off as stilted and unbelievable (at one point she “laughed merrily” and I had to put the book down). She doesn’t seem to have any friends besides her husband, who, btw, could probably beat you up since he spends 20 minutes a day doing Victorian bodybuilding exercises with 15 pound weights. She delves into minutia while keeping everything very superficial. She is very informed about Victorian history, which is interesting if you can find it tucked in between her complaints and merry laughter.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jacquelyn

    This book pretty mostly falls within a favorite category of mine -- Sabbatical Lit, except this is how they plan to live for the rest of their lives. It covers the lives of a couple living in 21st century Washington State in a Victorian home, living as close to a Victorian life as is possible (she does use a computer to submit her books, but writes them first long hand). A couple of thoughts: 1) There is truly someone for everyone. How two people who are this passionate about living 120 years ago This book pretty mostly falls within a favorite category of mine -- Sabbatical Lit, except this is how they plan to live for the rest of their lives. It covers the lives of a couple living in 21st century Washington State in a Victorian home, living as close to a Victorian life as is possible (she does use a computer to submit her books, but writes them first long hand). A couple of thoughts: 1) There is truly someone for everyone. How two people who are this passionate about living 120 years ago found each other amazes me. 2) I'd prefer to take the good from different eras in life rather than live an all or nothing existence. Their house was built in 1888 without plumbing, which was added about 20 years later. Plumbing did exist then, so they have decided to keep their water closet (I know this was your first concern). I love the parts where she talks in great detail about buying an antique bed and then making, yes making, a mattress to go on it because modern day mattresses are the wrong size, too expensive, and used mattresses are ick. Or how to incorporate other 1880s stuff into the 21st century (such as a real ice box, but we don't have people delivering ice these days). If it had stayed on topic, I would have given it five stars. Instead she does research because that's who she is, and takes wide detours as if her editor told her the book needed to be around 300 pages to be marketable (it is 288 pages with lots of pictures). More power to them.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Victoria

    This was a fun read for me. Married couple Gabriel and Sarah Chrisman have always had a fascination for the Victorian period (me too). While they had already owned a few items from that age, they decided to take it a step further and live as if it were still the Victorian age, while accepting the technology that others have. For instance, they don't own cell phones, use oil lamps instead of electrical lighting, don't drive but ride their reproduction bikes everywhere (they even talk about how th This was a fun read for me. Married couple Gabriel and Sarah Chrisman have always had a fascination for the Victorian period (me too). While they had already owned a few items from that age, they decided to take it a step further and live as if it were still the Victorian age, while accepting the technology that others have. For instance, they don't own cell phones, use oil lamps instead of electrical lighting, don't drive but ride their reproduction bikes everywhere (they even talk about how they will ride 75 miles in a day like it is no big deal). The list goes on. They also dress as if it were the Victorian period (Sarah hand sews her outfits, which are gorgeous). I love reading and learning how people live in a simplistic fashion. This way of life is commendable, in my opinion! I really feel Sarah Chrisman's way of writing is very Victorian even. Beautifully and delicately produced details that fascinate the mind!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kilian Metcalf

    What started out as an interest in 19th-century living evolved into a full-blown lifestyle. This couple live as completely as possible in the 19th century. The challenges and rewards make up the bulk of the book. Fortunately, the husband has a profession as a bicycle repairman that has changed little over the years. His job is much the same. For Sarah keeping house is a struggle at first, but she soon settles into a life without modern technology. I wouldn't want to trade places with her, but it What started out as an interest in 19th-century living evolved into a full-blown lifestyle. This couple live as completely as possible in the 19th century. The challenges and rewards make up the bulk of the book. Fortunately, the husband has a profession as a bicycle repairman that has changed little over the years. His job is much the same. For Sarah keeping house is a struggle at first, but she soon settles into a life without modern technology. I wouldn't want to trade places with her, but it is interesting to read about her struggles and triumphs. It is when she turns to long chapters about her and her husband's bicycle trips that I tuned out and started skipping. They just aren't very interesting to me. I'm glad that she and her husband are absorbed in minute details of bicycle travel using 19th-century bikes, but I found little of interest in them. My blog: The Interstitial Reader https://theinterstitialreader.wordpre...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Suzanna

    This book is both a delightful description of two passionate aficionados living out their dream of living in the Victorian era as much as possible - a version of a dream most history huffs have had at some point - and also a unique look at the Victorian worldview as tempered by the 21st century lens. While Chrisman and her husband cannot, as products of the modern world, have a fully Victorian worldview, they have read and thought so much about the period, and experienced as daily realities so m This book is both a delightful description of two passionate aficionados living out their dream of living in the Victorian era as much as possible - a version of a dream most history huffs have had at some point - and also a unique look at the Victorian worldview as tempered by the 21st century lens. While Chrisman and her husband cannot, as products of the modern world, have a fully Victorian worldview, they have read and thought so much about the period, and experienced as daily realities so many of the factors that shape a worldview, that they are in a position to straddle the two eras, generously interpreting for the reader some things about the Victorians that we may have known, but never understood. The devotion they put into their lifestyle project, always expanding and improving upon their understanding and practice, is incredibly rare, and, to this reader, both admirable and enviable. I highly recommend this reading adventure.

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