Saturday, 27 December 2008

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

I've just finished reading Amanda Foreman's biog of the Duchess of Devonshire. I've got to tell you, I was somewhat disappointed. I know the book caused a sensation when it came out ten years ago, and I admire Foreman's scholarly take on the Duchess which avoids making nonsense assumptions that its subject was a proto-feminist, but a lot of the time I kept wondering if Georgiana was really worthy of a biography of such weight. Yes, she was an interesting woman, but she was constrained by her aristocratic position, which meant much of the book is taken up with trivialities: her ruinous gambling habit and the general bed-hopping of her set. This is why I've now turned to Norma Clarke's Queen of the Wits: A Life of Laetitia Pilkington because I'm more interested in figures on the fringes of Georgian society - people who had the freedom of movement than Georgiana did. I'll post more on that when I've finished it.

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