A work “that will stand the test of time”
A reviewer on Amazon co.uk, writing on 19 July 2020 under the name Bazz, opens with these words:
“Every now and then a non-fiction work comes out that will stand the test of time (think Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, or Gilbert White’s Natural History of Selborne).
I think Margaret Bird’s Mary Hardy and her World is destined to join them.”
“A ‘must have’ addition to your reading”
The reviewer is also full of praise for the four volumes of The Diary of Mary Hardy, edited by Margaret Bird and published in 2013; the new work is built around this text.
“They were a joy to read; heavily illustrated and with side-notes giving the personal details of most of the people named in the diaries, along with other contextual details.”
“Bazz” then outlines the content of the new study and refers to “the fantastic level of research Margaret Bird has done, over the past 32 years”. The review continues:
“I have learnt so much social history about the times the Hardys lived through, so much of which will be very similar to what my ancestors would have experienced – and not just in this part of the UK.
Whether you are interested in social, local, family or just general history, it is clear that Mary Hardy and her World is a ‘must have’ addition to your reading.”
“Approachable and readable”
Crucially, the reviewer finds that the work makes no sacrifices over scholarship and academic rigour and yet remains very accessible:
“Whilst this is undoubtedly a set of volumes that follow a high academic standard, the writing itself is very approachable and readable . . .
I would highly recommend this set of volumes to everyone who is the least bit curious about how their ancestors lived.”
Another Amazon review: “Magnificent”
“Thule”, contributing a detailed assessment on 6 May 2020 on the same Amazon reviews page, is similarly impressed. The four volumes of Mary Hardy and her World “are each magnificent tours de force”.
The writer emphasises that this is a study of working life:
“This is not the life of landed gentry such as portrayed by Jane Austen . . ., nor the life of such as Parson Woodforde (a direct contemporary of Mary Hardy’s), certainly not the life of the beau monde: it is rural (hard)working life.”
“From what I have read so far I have no doubt that all four volumes of World – like the Diary – will be compelling reads from start to finish, and that I will be turning the pages slowly, mining and absorbing all the information.”
The reviewer concludes with praise for the indexing, as also for the look and feel of the volumes. They are “beautifully printed by Gomer Press on silk-coated, archive-quality paper, matching physical quality with the undoubted quality of their content”.