I know quite a bit about 19th century life, through many years of reading books written then. But this book was full of stuff I didn't know, especially all the intricacies of death rituals, wills, politics, medical care, social classes, and sexual mores. I will definitely read Austen, Dickens, Trollope, Harding, and the like with a different eye now. It makes a lot more sense why certain things are important or worrisome. Absolutely fascinating. Actually kept me up late! You can't say that about many reference books. Author has a sense of humor too.