The Reading Nook

Ask The Past – Book Review

Ask The Past is a ‘compendium of curious counsel’ from medieval times to the age of enlightenment.

Written by Elizabeth P. Archibald Ph.D

I picked this book up on a whim because it was only £3.99 in HomeSense. I found it a light, easy read and it is funny too. Archibald has added comments at the bottom of each page with a satirical contemporary wit that everyone can enjoy.


Despite being an easy read there were a few pages where I became stuck and had to look up certain words, however this was infrequent because despite the English being very old you could more or less read around the abnormalities especially when in context. In my opinion, it is much more fun to read an original antique text than have it all translated into plain, modern day English and I think it wonderful that Archibald has spent such a long time compiling all of these curiosities into a single book which we can all have a giggle at.

Something I found particularly funny was how abundant uses for butter were in the old times, if you get a chance to read this book you will surely see my point. One particular fragment that made me laugh was as follows:

How To Predict The Cost of Living


“When you see wolves looking for their prey close to towns or in the villages, you should know that it is a sign of high cost of living to come.”

Les Evangiles des Quenouilles

To which Archibald has annotated humorously: If you thought the recent spate of wolf attacks in the neighbourhood would drive down property values, thank again.

Page 202

So if you want to know how to mouse-proof your cheese, cure a sore throat (or just about any remedy for that matter), avoid a friend, leave a party or make yourself invisible, then this book will surely be full of wondrous advice! And something I found interesting was that all of the, seemingly obscure, advice has come from well respected sources of the time, so these are tips and tricks that people of the age would have tried. 

I would recommend! 🙂


Lulu x



2 thoughts on “Ask The Past – Book Review

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