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Mistress Peachum's Pleasure: The Life of Lavinia Fenton, Duchess of Bolton
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Mistress Peachum's Pleasure: The Life of Lavinia Fenton, Duchess of Bolton

liked it 3.0  ·  Rating Details ·  21 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
Mistress Peachum was Lavinia Fenton, an 18th-century actress who was the original Polly Peachum in John Gay’s celebrated play, The Beggar’s Opera. Both Lavinia and the play were overnight sensations; however, she enjoyed only a few months of fame before she caught the eye of the Duke of Bolton, a married aristocrat, and her life of glamour became ever more scandalous. With ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Orion Publishing (first published April 1st 2005)
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Geoff Boxell
I bought this book to find out about Lavinia, Duchess of Bolton, but as other reviewers have said, it is more an overview of British society and politics in the 18thC.
It is more of a popularised academic paper than a biography and would have been better described as:
"Lavinia Duchess of Bolton, Polly Peachum and The Beggars Opera - a commentary on British society in the 17thC and how the actress, character and script reflect it".
I got a lot from it, but it wasn't what I wanted.
₵oincidental   Ðandy
Having previously enjoyed Lisa Hilton's definitive biography of Françoise-Athénaïs (Madame de Montespan), I had higher than usual expectations for "Mistress Peachum's Pleasure". As it turns out, the book fares better (& is far more interesting) as a social history of English mores & customs of the 18th & 17th centuries (& particularly the evolution of the English theatre & the introduction of Italian opera into Georgian London) than it does as the biography of Livinia Fenton, ...more
Aug 27, 2012 Dorian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a somewhat muddled book, I found. The author doesn't seem to be very sure whether she's writing a life of Lavinia Fenton or an exploration of the Beggars' Opera and Georgian London, and veers about between the two. This may be because there's very little material for the biography portion. At times she resorts to outright making things up, and then, after a two- or three-page flight of fantasy, saying "but of course there's no evidence that any of that ever happened".

Having said that, bo
Alison C
Mar 09, 2015 Alison C rated it did not like it
Poor historical account, taken mostly from secondary sources, of an interesting 18th century woman; dreadful writing style too.
Interesting, but not sure exactly what it wanted to be. As a straight account of the genesis and success of The Beggars' Opera it works well, but falls down when it tries to cling onto the biography of Lavinia Fenton as the details of her life are so scant. The author's habit of changing from past to present tense and back again within chapters is awkward and distracting, but a pleasant read.
Helen Smith
as previous reviewers have said, this is a very confusing book as it seems unsure of its subject matter and it doesn't seem that enough is known about Lavinia to write a book.
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Lisa Hilton is an author and biographer. She grew up in the north of England and read English at New College, Oxford, after which she studied History of Art in Florence and Paris. After eight years in New York, Paris and Milan she has recently returned to England and now lives in London with her husband and their daughter. Her work has appeared in Vogue, Elle, the Evening Standard and the Telegrap ...more
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