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Often I have a couple of books on the go at the same time – a fiction and a non-fiction – and I have recently been reading The Domesday Quest by Michael Wood and Venus Envy by Louise Bagshawe (a.k.a. Louise Mensch, the former MP for Corby). Now, the latter is Chick-lit pure and simple, and a perfectly enjoyable representative of the genre, and there's nothing more to say. By complete contrast, the former is a potentially dry account of a nevertheless interesting and important historical document from 1086.
In his book, Michael Wood, as well as studying the ancient manuscript, endeavours to analyse the world that Domesday Book (never seen with the definite article) portrayed. In addition, by using this record, he examines Norman society and the Anglo-Saxon, Danish and Roman cultures that preceded it. His quest is to discover where England comes from and the origins of the English state, which this book shows to be the creation of the Anglo-Saxon kings of the ninth and tenth centuries, i.e. pre-dating the Norman Conquest. Whilst Domesday Book itself began the most detailed and complete record of the lives of the mass of people of any nation.
Whilst I did gloss over some of the more detailed records, I very much enjoyed this analysis of a period of history I knew little about.