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Lead book review

In grandmother’s treasure-chest

Lynn Knight extracts a rich history of birth, marriage, mourning — and top-to-toe glamour— from a box of Victorian buttons

13 February 2016

9:00 AM

13 February 2016

9:00 AM

The Button Box: Lifting the Lid on Women’s Lives Lynn Knight

Chatto, pp.308, £15.99, ISBN: 9780701188917

How could you possibly justify a whole book about buttons? How could the mention of a humble wooden toggle, a diamond clasp, a ‘blue side buckle’ inspire such an unusual and irresistibly delightful account of more than a century’s worth of women’s lives? You might wonder. But as Lynn Knight sorts her way through her Victorian grandmother Annie’s old treasures, a rich hoard of buttons of infinite shapes, sizes and textures, all packed into an old sweet tin, the smell of the lemon-scented geranium in Annie’s house comes hurtling through the door of her mind and returns her with a...

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