7 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful
J-R- reviewed Down the Common: A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman : A Novel on
Helpful Score: 3
Down the Common is an uncommon book, one which delivers the reality of history with a wallop. This is a book I will keep to reread. It is an example of what a well-researched historical novel can give a reader ... an understanding of the lives of the people of an era and the forces that both motivate and impead them, and an empathy for a central character who is tested every day ... and the test is just to survive.
An engaging book about life for women in medieval times. As a modern woman, it was an eye-opener of how difficult survival became for a wife and mother. When we watch movies about this era, we are never shown the nitty gritty of everyday life. Imagine an entire family living in a one-room hut, potty training a toddler without the modern conveniences we take for granted today. A must read for historical fiction fans.
I actually read this book as a part of my B.A. programme and truly enjoyed it. A caveat is that it is a fiction novel, not an academic book, but the author does a wonderful job of conveying a sense of the time from the bottom-up.
Bookfanatic reviewed Down the Common: A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman : A Novel on
Helpful Score: 1
I waited a long time for this book. It was worth waiting for. There is a loose story with dialogue, but large sections of the book are description, more nonfiction than fiction. The author does a great job providing the nitty gritty details of what day to day life was like for the peasants in medieval England. Life is very hard and short. You'll have a newfound respect for modern conveniences after reading this book. Marion, the heroine, is a poor but skilled woman in a good, happy marriage to a carpenter. She has children, and like many other women of that time, has lot several children. Her life is one of toil but she has her share of joy too. She probably does more from 7 a.m to 12 noon than I do all day when at home on the weekends! The description of small village life, the feasts in the great house, the expectations of children..all of that is fascinating. If you have an interest in history, get this book. If you're expecting a strong story with a clear plot, strong characters, there's nothing of the kind and I didn't mind at all.
What was life like for a commoner, especially a woman in Medieval England? Here we see Marian, as she struggles with pain and joy, month after month with the winter cold, hunger, backbreaking work, household chores, family life and illness and comes out as a true survivor of the world in which she lives.
This was a realistic and fascinating view of the everyday life of a married medieval woman. It gives a good sense of how to non-privileged classes must have lived -- largely illiterate and impoverished, with few children surviving to adulthood and the main pleasure in life to be found in the occasional feast day. Bodily functions are discussed matter-of-factly. It is not all depressing, and the writing is interesting, but I was exhausted after reading the tale of this woman's life and all that she must accomplish on a daily basis just to survive. Highly recommended.
Becki reviewed Down the Common: A Year in the Life of a Medieval Woman : A Novel on
Down the Common is a story of the common lives of the poor during a time when life courses were determined according to the family and social strata one was was born into. This story is told through the eyes of Marion, a woman with no extraordinary ability except perhaps to take in and appreciate the world around her.
It was a life that see-sawed between times of hard labor and mind-numbing idleness. Both extremes illustrating how hard life was. While the reader gets a view of life from the eyes of a common woman, one also gets a glimpse into the life of the gentry and sees that they, too, had their own struggles.
You will definitely gain new appreciation for modern inventions while reading this book - things like electricty, plumbing, refrigeration, penicillin...