Monday, 2 January 2012

Book Review: The Duchess - Amanda Foreman

Synopsis - Beautiful, glamorous and charismatic, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, was an icon of her age; she was also a compulsive gambler, an influential political operator, a drug addict, a doting mother and an adulteress.

In a world of decadence and excess, of great houses, extravagant parties and sexual intrigue, Georgiana, like her descendant Diana, Princess of Wales, was publicly adored but personally troubled.  From her complex ménage a trois with her husband and best friend to her vast gambling debts; from her adoration of her children to her passionate but doomed love for Earl Grey, she was a fascinating, contradictory woman whose story still resonates today.

Review - I have not seen the film and I have no desire to although I enjoyed the book.  The book is written as a very factual biography which I found extremely interesting.  I had not realised just how powerful a voice women had in aristocracy with regard to political influence in those days.  What a life Georgiana led!  Of course, the marriage was not unusual as adultery was rife on both sides and still is in these classes today.  A fashion icon in her own right and a very clever lady who designed clothes and hats, wrote stories and plays as well as advised on politics.  A compulsive gambler, I do wonder how her husband managed to remain ignorant of the full disclosure of her losses for such a long time.  A very competitive and insular world where all the leading ladies want to be top dog (as it were), and influence is power.

I found the genealogy interesting, in particular the lineage to Diana, Princess of Wales.  If you enjoy biographical history then it is worth a read, it is jam packed with information.  4*

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