Not light reading. Many quotes from family letters and newspapers of the time. Politics, gambling, intricate and complicated ties between members of the nobility.
Excellent and highly readable book about a woman of great intelligence, beauty and spirit who had a lasting effect on the time in which she lived. This last cannot be said of many women of the time: unenfranchised, chattle of their husbands, restricted in their thoughts and movement in the world. Meanwhile, men held the political power as well as the domestic. Georgiana managed to enter a world in which she could could use her flair to become both politically influential and a star of society. Highly recommended - much less of a potboiler than the movie!
This story is much more fascinating than the movie. What a story -adultery, politics, fashion, scandal. Princess Diana was directly descended from Georgiana and shared her flair for being in the public spotlight.
Though it has been some time since I read this book , it is one of the few I have wanted to keep in my personal library. Unfortunately, I cannot remember to whom it was loaned. The book gives a fascinating picture into the life of that class in that era. But, even more important, it gives a very full picture of an amazing woman, her strengths, her flaws and her weaknesses. As for the movie -- don't bother!
Georgiana Spencer was, in a sense, an 18th-century It Girl. She came from one of England's richest and most landed families (the late Princess Diana was a Spencer too) and married into another. She was beautiful, sensitive, and extravagant--drugs, drink, high-profile love affairs, and even gambling counted among her favorite leisure-time activities. Nonetheless, she quickly moved from a world dominated by social parties to one focused on political parties. The duchess was an intimate of ministers and princes, and she canvassed assiduously for the Whig cause, most famously in the Westminster election of 1784. By turns she was caricatured and fawned on by the press, and she provided the inspiration for the character of Lady Teazle in Richard Sheridan's famous play The School for Scandal. But her weaknesses marked the last part of her life. By 1784, for one, Georgiana owed "many, many, many thousands," and her creditors dogged her until her death.
Biographer Amanda Foreman describes astutely the mess that surrounded the personal relationships of the aristocratic subculture (Georgiana and the duke engaged for many years in a ménage à trois with Lady Elizabeth Fraser, who inveigled her way into the duke's bed and the duchess's heart). Foreman is, by her own admission, a little in love with her subject, which can lead to occasional lapses of perspective, but generally it adds zest to a narrative built on, rather than burdened by, scholarship, that is at once accessible and learned. An impressive debut, in every sense. --David Vincent, Amazon.co.uk