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CarpeLibrum

Carpe Librum

Reviews and bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.

If I am lost, you will find me in medieval England.

You can also find me - and my books - on my blog.

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Review: Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer

The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century - Ian Mortimer

I picked up this book because I thought it might include useful details for some writing that I am doing which is set in the late 15th century. My copy does not have the subtitle, "A Handbook for Visitors to the FOURTEENTH Century" on the front, as is shown. After some initial disappointment that the information was not quite the right time period, I consoled myself and was soon taken in.

This ended up being some of the easiest nonfiction reading that I have done. The book is aptly named, for it reads something like being on a tour bus that is driving around 1300s England. Plug your noses, everybody, as you see we are about to cross Shitbrook to enter Exeter. 

Every detail of daily life seems to be covered without dragging the reader through passages of eye-glazing tedium that other books contain. You will come away from this book with a better understanding of what it was like to live in the 14th century, and it doesn't much resemble most of the fiction we read about it.

Of course, part of this is because we enjoy reading about kings and queens, knights and ladies, not peasants (who apparently wouldn't recognize that word if they heard it). We read about tables overflowing with courses, not poor country folk carefully bleeding their cow's legs so that they can make protein-packed blood pudding without killing the precious animal.

This guide not only explains what it was like to live 700 years ago, it puts you there, giving you tips on where to go and what to do. And don't let the fact that it's nonfiction fool you into believing that it can't be entertaining. 

"You, sauntering along, whistling an outlandish tune, with enough silver in your purse to attract every scoundrel who saw you at the last inn, are a walking liability."

An invaluable resource to anyone writing about this period and informative background for those who like to read about it, I recommend this book to all amateur historians.