A vivid portrait ... Strasdin follows each thread and reconstructs Anne Sykes’s life — lifting her subject out of obscurity, while situating her story within a broader historical narrative ... Strasdin illuminates an era in fashion ... Using a combination of highly illustrative prose and reproductions of fashion plates, the author details the evolution of fashionable silhouettes and helps us to envision how the small bits of fabric might have looked as complete garments. Still, it is the additional sociocultural context surrounding Victorian-era dress practices that brings these women’s wardrobes, and world, to life.
An extraordinarily rich record of middle-class Victorian life, both at home and abroad ... Kate Strasdin does not present us with a facsimile of the album, although there are coloured plates to give us a sense of its riotous diversity. Instead she uses it as a tool to unpick the dense network of economic, social and cultural threads woven into the sample.
A charming book of micro-history ... Snippets of fabric, snippets of biographical detail, snippets of historical evidence — this is a book entirely made up of snippets and I found it irresistible ... Sometimes she overdoes the history lessons.