What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew:
From Fox Hunting to Whist - the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England

Daniel Pool

Simon & Schuster 1994
A book review by Danny Yee © 1995 http://dannyreviews.com/
What Jane Austen Ate is a guide to everyday English life last century. It has two parts: the first consists of short (several page) essays on various topics; the second (about a third of the text) is a glossary, which largely overlaps the text in content but makes the volume a much better reference. Pool doesn't try to be comprehensive and What Jane Austen Ate is not a social history of nineteenth century England; the focus is very much on those things which are important in the (canonical) English novels of the century.

Those, like myself, who are already familiar with many of the novels in question will find What Jane Austen Ate an enjoyable tour through largely familiar territory. For the reader approaching nineteenth English literature for the first time, however, it is likely to be most useful as a reference. The inclusion in the glossary of many words whose meaning hasn't changed appreciably since last century — "diocese", "mastiff", and "rank", for example — is a little odd. Combined with repeated explanation of the difference between the American and British use of "first floor", it suggests that the intended audience is American college students with little or no knowledge of English history and culture.

September 1995

External links:
- buy from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk
Related reviews:
- books about Britain + British history
- more social history
%T What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew
%S From Fox Hunting to Whist - the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England
%A Pool, Daniel
%I Simon & Schuster
%D 1994
%O paperback, bibliography, index
%G ISBN 0671882368
%P 416pp