A plum pudding of a book… some very sweet, juicy bits but if you have too much at once it will give you terrible stomach ache.
This was the overriding feeling towards May’s Book Club title The Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England. Fascinating and enjoyable, incredibly well researched, terribly sad and even horrific in places; the book certainly divided opinion amongst our readers.
Overall it was agreed that the book did exactly what it set out to do – make social history more interesting and accessible, to entertain and to educate.
Part reference book, part historical travel guide and packed with entertaining insights into every-day Elizabethan life, most of the group agreed that, although they might not have read it otherwise, they were very glad they had – even if they hadn’t read the chapters in the order the author had intended.
When asked for their highlights from the book, almost all said something different: the playwright in the group named the theatre chapter, and the nurse the medical insights. We all took something different from it, and as the author himself says, “Elizabethans are not some distant, alien race, but our family – they are us in a manner of speaking…” And what could be more enlightening to discuss than that?