Although “Lost Country Life” is, in effect, a kind of almanac, it is hardly dry or utilitarian (though it is dense). Spanning the course of a full year’s crop cycle, Hartley’s books takes us into the day-to-day itineraries of rural peasant life that existed from about 1200 to 1700, when the status quo was disrupted by new ideas and technologies. This is a fascinating book to have on hand as a reference guide, or as a one-time read into a life that is so starkly different from our own. Although Hartley does spend considerable time discussing the wider context of her subjects—revealing how much an individual is impacted by historical forces too big to comprehend—her primary passion is in the details of life dependent on the land. The only drawback? Her writing style, while erudite and fluid, can be at times too quaint and polite, and her sense of humor is a bit outdated. Recommended for all readers.
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