This entertaining, excellent book from Goodman (How to Be a Tudor) provides a window into the nitty-gritty of daily life for merchants, street sellers, and others listed in the subtitle in 1550–1660 England ... Accessible, fun, and historically accurate, this etiquette guide will yield chuckles, surprises, and a greater understanding of everyday life in Renaissance England.
The author has a wicked taste for the objectionable and the wit to deliver it in a wholly enjoyable, even educational way. However, there is a more serious undertone to all of this impropriety, one that regards appropriate comportment and courtesy rituals as the lubrication of societal harmony ... The book overflows with historical curiosities, interesting asides, and eyebrow-raising aha moments ... Goodman helps us navigate the shoals of another era's sensibilities in a way that is also illuminating of our own.
...Goodman's...investigation of life along the boundaries of English Renaissance civility uncovers various categories of transgression, including insults, violent acts, and crude behavior, that are still recognizable today ... Goodman deftly combines anecdotes and examples that illustrate each topic and clear explanations of why certain behavior mattered socially and philosophically in that time and place ... highly readable and very funny treatment of a popular historical period and an invitation for readers to think about their own understandings of cultural etiquette.