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

3.21 of 5 stars 3.21  ·  rating details  ·  14 ratings  ·  3 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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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...more
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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