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Gentry: Six Hundred Years of a Peculiarly English Class
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Gentry: Six Hundred Years of a Peculiarly English Class

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  112 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Paperback, 460 pages
Published August 16th 2012 by HarperPress (first published 2011)
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3.69  · 
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 ·  112 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Mel Campbell
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this at first – I like history books generally, and this is an approachably framed one, drawing on private letters and papers to build intimate, specific portraits of different landed English families at various moments of historical, economic and personal crisis.

But about in the middle I found myself struggling, not really looking forward to picking up the book. It began to feel dry, like work rather than enjoyment. Perhaps that's just me; I picked it up again recently and tore
Sep 16, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
I found it rather odd that a member of the gentry (in 2008 the author succeeded his cousin to become the 5th Baron Carnock, despite not using the title) should write a book on the gentry without disclosing his own membership to the social class or group, if you will, however you choose to define it. Of course any reader can find out about the author's background with a quick Google search (details of the author's life are very easily available from a quick online search thanks to his, shall we s ...more
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, history
3 1/2 stars. This is a curious book: while Adam Nicolson has done an enormous amount of research, and is, by some standards at least, a very good writer, I found it annoying and overly didactic. There is something which I cannot articulate that makes his writing a little pretentious and too complex.

The book is indeed about the gentry of England, and if we hadn't figured that out from the title, we would of necessity have guessed it from the repetition of the word on nearly every page. Nicolson p
Vanessa Innes-Wagstaff
A very well researched and well written book, interesting. I did struggle here and there to finish it and although well done, it's one of those books I wanted to read, but would struggle to re-read. It is good to have histories made about less titled families in the social upper levels, not just titled families, and here Nicolson is original as these families were old and interesting but not massively titled.
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book in part, but found it rather dry in the sense that it contains a lot of fine detail derived from public record sources. The author makes little attempt to trim this information and the reader is left to plough through long lists of the content of wills court records etc. This often obstructs the narrative flow. Apart from this and if the reader does not mind skipping those parts he has little interest in, the book is a good read.
Susan Fehr
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the premise of this book and the start. For all that, I was reading it morning noon and night until it was finished (with brief pauses for screaming at the arrogant/stupid/selfish people or screaming at the bad hands of fate some nice and pleasant people had to deal with).

Part of the problem is that the gentry is a class hard to identify and sort of hard to identify with. The other part is that its pretty depressing: either they are people on the up through opression and selfishness or
Dec 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
My most recent favourite book, 'Gentry' examines a selection of families from this class over the last 600 years through their own writings - letters, diaries, account books, etc. I found the letters especially affecting, the pet names and their loving tone is, of course, absent in most history books (the diary entries after the loss of a child were also very powerful), they also demonstrate how active women were in building and maintaining estates and fortunes, something I rarely come across in ...more
Jane Walker
Jul 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
A beautifully written book which takes us from the middle ages to the present in chapters about particular gentry families. This is a class not much written about; not titled aristocrats but the next layer down, of varying wealth. While all the families are different, Nicolson draws together the similarities at the end. And he never loses sight of the fact that below them were a host of people serving them for a pittance. In one chapter, about the Pinckneys, he discusses the "different conceptua ...more
Feb 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Surprisingly excellent, if a little slow to get started at times.
Fascinating insight into how life was lived in the middle to upper classes in medieval england through to current day. I think the stories from about 1500-1900 were easily the most relatable, the stories about the families who are still alive and active today were a bit all over the place, as they spoke about the current era and people who were still alive.
Clearly and actively a history, so no "putting words in peoples mouths" unli
Kelly Hodgkins
Sep 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"An interesting if complicated and slow read"

Where does The Gentry rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?
It sits in the middle, it was a highly informative and complicated read. However, the narrator has a voice that could lull one to sleep which made concentrating rather tricky. Multigenerational story lines meant keeping track of characters and relating to them hard work
Russell Turner
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this slice of the history of England , told through the fortunes of a small number of gentry families over a few hundred years. It's beautifully written, but then most of Nicholson's stuff is.
Liz Wager
Aug 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoroughly enjoyed this -- I love Nicolson's writing and there are some great insights into English history and the class system.
Dec 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: unfinished
Sadly, I just found this terribly dull...
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Some of the families were fascinating to read about; others less so. The photograph on the front annoyed me as this book shows that the gentry are never eccentric and always pragmatic.
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 / 5

Enjoyable just not as engaging as I'd hoped. An interesting perspective on history with these families.
Fiona Neill
interesting but very dry
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic research and probably a wonderful source of information, but I couldn't get on with it. I made it through the first five chapters before admitting defeat.
Jul 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good read- lots of info about families below the radar in most histories. I especially liked the chapter on the Tudor Thynne family (since I visited Longleat when I was a kid).
May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting stuff but worth bearing in mind, especially in the later chapters, that the author lives in a castle.
Josefina Myrman
Mar 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: läslista-2015
Nästan en femma!
May 15, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ok but not great. A bit disjointed and disappointing
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Adam Nicolson writes a celebrated column for The Sunday Telegraph. His books include Sissinghurst, God’s Secretaries, When God Spoke English, Wetland, Life in the Somerset Levels, Perch Hill, Restoration, and the acclaimed Gentry. He is winner of the Somerset Maugham Award and the British Topography Prize and lives on a farm in Sussex.