Book review for Penguin Classics

A few months ago I found out that Penguin Classics were sending out free books to people prepared to review them on their blog.  I duly applied, was successful and was sent Voyages and Discoveries by Richard Hakluyt.  Here is my review – I wrote it and posted it to the Penguin website today and it will appear at some point on the site.


Voyages and Discoveries is a selected collection of documents from Richard Hakluyt’s much larger work. They date mostly from the 16th century.  They are writings and correspondence by lots of different people about their travels. 

This book is one to dip into rather than to read from end to end.   It provides a fascinating, if sometimes obscure, view into the world of the 1500s.  From descriptions of a particular journey, to rules and regulations on board ship, it is a glimpse into another century, another world.  First-hand accounts of impressions of very different lands to their own.  Descriptions of merchandise and treasures.  

On one page you will find a 15th century Bill Bryson, on the next a shipping agent’s report to his boss. 

It was interesting to me to read direct accounts rather than a historian’s indirect report of them.  Random phrases about textiles popped out at me:

“they gave him for a present a garment of cloth of velvet and another of scarlet”

“one hundred pieces of kersey, seven broadcloths, two barrels of cochineal…”

Lots about raw silk, and even more about food….


I seem to have done well recently with acquiring free books for review.  I recently joined the Librarything Early Reviewers and yesterday my first book arrived!  Boy A by Jonathan Trigell.  I am well into that already. 

Hope they send me an arty book next!!

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2 Responses to Book review for Penguin Classics

  1. Candy Schultz December 1, 2007 at 1:28 am #

    And what do you suppose kersey is?

    Congrats on the books to review. I have three free ones to review right now. I am in heaven. Free books – yay!

  2. Liz December 1, 2007 at 4:53 pm #

    kersey a coarse ribbed woolen cloth for hose and work clothes; a heavy wool
    or wool and cotton fabric used especially for uniforms and coats. A garment
    made of kersey fabric, namely a heavy wool or wool and cotton fabric.
    Wool – poor quality, can also be made of re-used or remanufactured wool.
    Originated in Kersey, England in 11th century. Very similar to beaver but it
    is fulled more, has a shorter nap and a much higher luster.

    Everything you needed to know!!