Amanda Foreman The Duchess

ISBN 13: 9781400161614

The Duchess

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9781400161614: The Duchess
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Lady Georgiana Spencer was the great-great-great-great-aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales, and was nearly as famous in her day. In 1774 Georgiana achieved immediate celebrity by marrying William Cavendish, fifth duke of Devonshire, one of England's richest and most influential aristocrats. She became the queen of fashionable society and founder of the most important political salon of her time. But Georgiana's public success concealed an unhappy marriage, a gambling addiction, drinking, drug taking, and rampant love affairs with the leading politicians of the day. With penetrating insight, Amanda Foreman reveals a fascinating woman whose struggle against her own weaknesses, whose great beauty and flamboyance, and whose determination to play a part in the affairs of the world make her a vibrant, astonishingly contemporary figure.

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Review:

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

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"Georgiana bursts from the pages of Amanda Foreman's dazzling biography like the force of nature she undoubtedly was--passionate, political, addicted to gambling, and drunk on life. This is a stunning book about an astonishing woman."

---Simon Schama

"A most impressive début. I predict a great future for Amanda Foreman. She is a scholar who matches her learning to a sense of adventure and writes with engaging vitality." ---Michael Holroyd

"A mesmerizing read. . . . The charm of Amanda Foreman's Georgiana is that it gives you all the fascinating detail you want . . . and is at the same time a serious, scholarly work, based on exhaustive archival research."
--Antonia Fraser, Literary Review

"Stunning historical research plus feminine acuity yield a vivid portrait of a shrewd, seductive ancestor of Princess Diana's in an age before democracy or contraception." ---Brenda Maddox, author of Yeats' Ghosts and
Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom

"I put this book down entranced by the woman. This is an outstanding début by a young biographer fully in control of her sources, and with an easy, elegant writing style. She tells a tale that calls not only for our admiration but for our compassion." --Roy Strong, London Sunday Times

"This is an accomplished and well-written biography, remarkably mature for a first effort; diligently researched and entertainingly presented. Amanda Foreman is a writer to watch and one from whom much can be expected."
---Daily Telegraph

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780375753831: Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0375753834 ISBN 13:  9780375753831
Publisher: Modern Library, 2001
Softcover

9780812979695: The Duchess

Random..., 2008
Softcover

9780375502941: Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

Random..., 1999
Hardcover

9780002556682: Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

Harper..., 1998
Hardcover

9780007285754: The Duchess

Harper..., 2008
Softcover

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