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Hannah Rose Woods begins her chronicle in contemporary Britain and retreats ever deeper into the past, coming to rest in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The purpose of this ‘reverse history’ is to point up the tendency, which finds regular expression in Britain, to seek comfort in what appears to be a better yesterday. This expositional strategy (which recalls Martin Amis's 1991 novel, Time's Arrow) seems rather gimmicky. However, Woods brings the complexities of nostalgia into focus.