The entire time I was listening to this, I kept thinking “Where do I know that name?” So I looked her up before writing this review. Turns out I’ve seen her as one of the stars of the short reality TV series Tudor Monastery Farm. That provides a really good introduction to this book. It’s one thing to see things briefly touched upon in a show with a time limit. It’s something else entirely to get down and dirty with the details of absolutely every little thing that constituted everyday life in the late middle ages and early Renaissance. No stone is left unturned here. You name it, she covers it. Bedding, cooking, farming, trade, beer, animal tending, clothes, sex… everything.
It’s a rare thing to find history books like this, where the history comes alive. Whenever I find one, I jump on it. I’m so glad I did in this case. The detail in this is so rich, you can practically smell the blood, sweat, and tears that went into it. It’s a book that, as a medievalist, I can’t help but admire the authenticity that went into this. Goodman has done everything that’s discussed herein, so it comes from personal experience as much as from old records.
As a bonus, narrator Heather Wilds has a beautiful voice with the perfect accent for this material. I could listen to her read the phone book and be content. At the same time, I’ll be needing a print copy as a reference just because there are inevitably things that I will want to cross-reference in my studies from time to time.