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The Duchess

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  13,445 Ratings  ·  1,025 Reviews
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 politica ...more
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Published June 15th 2009 by Tantor Media (first published 1998)
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Jenny Lynn Yes, the duchess is about this woman, Georgiana. Really fantastic movie, would love to read more about her
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Petra Eggs
A pretty girl from a titled, extremely wealthy family is sold off to an older man with an even more aristocratic title and loads more money as a brood mare. She is told he loves her, what 17 year-old wouldn't believe that? It isn't true, he just wants a mother for his future son and heir.

As she grows a little more mature she discovers twin passions - fashion and politics, which being a woman, she can only comment on, not vote or act herself. Combining those into a glittering salon for the wealth
this was a book, that I would like to have loved, but ultimately, it did not cut the mustard, pass the port, or lead in the quadrille.although the background to foreman researching this story is fantastic - she was studying 18th century uk politics and was taught that the involvement of women like the dukess of devonshire was basically just eye candy for the voters, but she found out that georgiana for the whigs and later the duchess of gordon for Pitt the younger were important political figure ...more
Nov 07, 2008 Lindsay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those of us who love to read, hearing about an exciting movie adaptation makes us want to read the book. We, the few and the proud, will sit on our literary high horses and wait to finish the book even if it means the movie is no longer in theaters. I am one such reader and this is one such book. I saw a preview and was immediately drawn in, but as soon as I realized it was based upon a prize-winning biography, I immediately ordered a copy. I had high expectations, which I am glad to report ...more
Navidad Thelamour
Aug 03, 2016 Navidad Thelamour rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
One of the 5 reads I managed to gobble down in my last semester of grad school (in between internships at Hachette and dissertation writing!!) Loved this read! Non-fiction isn't typically my go-to drug of choice, but when it's done well, I really latch onto it. This one definitely was "well done" and delved into aspects of her life before the fame and in her later life that the commercial movie (which I also loved) never touched on. A good choice of read for sure!
Sherwood Smith
The separate spheres view of life in the 18th century in particular was probably necessary in order to shift perceptions of what was important to dig out of attics and archives and study. The focus has usually been the eternal rehashings of king/prime minister/ Parliamentiary carousels, or economic development (Marxist scholars). Until Braudel and his French quantifiers started looking at cemetery stones and baptismal records and counting up demographics, no one paid much attention to what the f ...more
Jan 11, 2009 Christina rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The title of the biography and the jacket blurb would lead one to believe that Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire is about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. But I think the biography was less about Gerogiana and more about the politics in Georgiana’s time. I realize that Georgiana was very involved in the Whig party, but the book as a whole droned on and on about England’s political scene.

And while I personally find politics fascinating, in this book the Duchess of Devonshire, the most popular per
Jun 11, 2007 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history geeks, women
Beautiful, passionate, but lost. That story didn't have a happy ending in the 18th century, either. This story is rather depressing at times, but vastly amusing and interesting otherwise. To say this woman led a fascinating life is an understatement. She did ridiciulous, stupid things, and the author is a little bit overly tolerant of these mistakes. (She said herself she's in love with Georgiana a little.) So you have to take the somewhat rosy picture of Georgiana's character being painted with ...more
Mauoijenn ~ *Mouthy Jenn* ~
A fantastic, in depth look at a classy lady. I enjoyed this a lot. A great book!
Sep 22, 2008 Elena rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

After finishing "Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire" by Amanda Foreman, I have come to the conclusion that the flaming youth of the 1770's and 80's were just about as wild a bunch that could be. It seems that the generation of aristocrats who came of age in the decade and a half immediately before the French Revolution liked to live life at the edge. Fashions were extreme, homes were elaborate, and fortunes were gambled blithely away. Traditional morals and religious practice were given a public n
A good, very thorough biography of a fascinating woman - Foreman is lucky to have had access to hundreds of letters written by Georgiana and her colleagues, so we get to see the historical figures telling their stories in their own words (something I'm not used to, being more fond of Tudor-era history). Also interesting was how many of Georgiana's letters don't survive, and why. She had some Victorian descendants who, due to being Victorian, took it upon themselves to clean up their ancestor's i ...more
Dec 09, 2008 Esme rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book really took me by surprise. It's not candycoated historical fiction, it is a really exacting portrayal of Georgiana. The author has tons of (interesting) quotes and footnotes, and relies soley on facts to paint a RICH portrait of the french revolution, the whig party etc. REALLY GOOD!

fun fact I learned from this book: apparently, while giviing toasts during the men-only portions of fancy dinners, english politicians would relieve themselves into chamber pots in the corners of rooms, w
 SaЯRah Muhammad

Georgiana was a trendsetter extraordinaire of her day. She freely experimented with fashion, regularly made all the gossip columns and gambled away more than one fortune, sums of money staggering even by today's standards. What I found particularly impressive about her was her grasp of and influence upon political matters. She actively campaigned for candidates, something previously unheard of for a woman in the 18th century.
You'll need a baseball score card to keep track of the romantic entangl
Apr 28, 2009 Meleece rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting book because I enjoyed reading it but I did not enjoy the subject matter. My expectations were that I was going to read an inspiring account of an amazing woman who made the best of the unfair situation of her marriage to a tyrant and the lack of rights as a woman in society. What I found instead was a really pathetic character. This woman basically gambled away her husband's estate,of millions and millions of dollars in today's standard of currency, not just once but ...more
Jen Richer
Oct 21, 2009 Jen Richer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having seen the movie before reading, I was expecting the same seedy love affair between the unhappily wed but wildly popular Georgiana Spencer, great aunt to the late Princess Diana and Whig Party up-and-comer Charles Gray. As in her real life, the affair was hardly a chapter’s worth of material

What started as a dissertation for her graduate studies for the author, quickly developed into an 18 –month, 450 page study on not only the life of Lady G, but an historical briefing on women, power, pol
Jamie Collins
An entertaining biography. Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire, was charming, intelligent and creative; she was the leader of high society in late 18th-century London; she was an author and an amateur scientist. She was also a key figure in the Whig political party. She broke new ground for the participation of women in politics (much of which would be lost in the Victorian age) and also for the use of personal celebrity to advance a political cause. The author’s doctoral thesis was on Georgian ...more
Jan 27, 2017 Marina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This biography is truly a gem. I enjoyed every word, from the first page, to the last.
Jun 30, 2012 Iset rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 18th century afficianados, or people interested in Georgiana

I yield at around the two-thirds mark. Couldn’t finish this one. I found my mind wandering, chunks of narration just not sinking in, and even nodding off from time to time. It just isn’t grabbing my attention or engaging me. For me, the book gets bogged down in the minutiae, frequently diverging into lengthy tangents describing in excruciating detail aspects of society and politics that seemed to have only a tenuous connection with Georgiana herself. All in all I found it very dry going. Also, i
Just arrived from USA through BM.

This is biography of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire who was the great-great-great-great-aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales.


Amanda Foreman's research work brings to life this famous historical and aristocratic character.


By marrying William Cavendish in 1774, she became a famous figure due to her political and fashion ambitions. The book has plenty of Georgiana's correspondence, pictures and newspapers of that time giving engraving details of her life.


I haven't

Aug 04, 2008 Adriana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who can take large amounts of information
Recommended to Adriana by: Lillian
This is proving to be a very fascinating read! Very political, very sexual (not in a broad sense but with underlying tones.) It appears that Princess Diana's great aunt, seven times removed, set precedent for her niece on eccentricities. Although I loved Diana, she was a bit of an oddball. However, I do find that I am falling in love with Georgiana, as well. A free spirit, a romantic and a brave lady. CAn't wait to finish it! Stay tuned!

Okay, so I have about fifty pages to go and cannot seem to
Dana Loo
Biografia accuratissima dalla quale emerge prepotentemente la personalità di una donna ricca di paradossi e contraddizioni: madre amorevole, regina dei salotti inglesi, grande stratega e attivista politica, icona di stile, scrittrice, appassionata di mineralogia e chimica, amica e confidente di grandi figure storiche: Maria Antonietta, la Duchessa di Polignac, il Principe Reggente...
Viene però ricordata principalmente per lo scandaloso, ma nemmeno poi tanto, ménage a trois che si instaurò tra le
Jul 17, 2008 Courtney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this at a used bookstore a month or so ago, and have barely made it past the "notes on the politics of the time" in the preface. But I went to a movie yesterday and saw a preview for a movie called "The Duchess" staring Keira Knightly, so I need to read it before the movie jades me!!
I studied 18th century British portraiture and political cartoons in depth when I studied abroad my junior year of college, so I expect to find this really interesting.

Update: finished!

Wow, Forema
This was a tough one to get through. The book was too long. I think it was more about politics than Georgiana. I think the author should have had a more narrow scope. Is this a book about Georgiana? Or, is it a book about England’s political scene during her life time? One or the other please. There is definitely interesting history in this book. And Georgiana’s life is worth reading about. I just think the author could have done a better job. Georgiana lived from 1757 to 1806. She lived thru th ...more
I got bored and frustrated in the middle with all the hysterical insecurity and massive gambling debts, late-night partying leading to infertility or miscarriages, but by the end, particularly after the Duchess replaced drinking, drugs, and gambling with chemistry and mineralogy, I really liked the book. Certainly well-written and meticulously researched, it left me musing once again on the constrictive lives of intelligent, articulate, dynamic women in extremely misogynist, patriarchal times.
Jan 03, 2008 Bellish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like me a good historical biography, and my mother has plenty to lend me, but this isn't a period I am usually interested in. However, this is the story of an extremely interesting life, written in a fluent style which almost comes across as fiction at times.

I may be buying into a genre here, but I still find that biographies written particularly by women, and often about women, are far more interesting to me than those written by men.
Jan 25, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wouldn't have sought out this book if I hadn't seen the movie "Duchess" on a recent transAtlantic flight. I remember, vaguely, hearing about the book when it was first released in 1998, when much was made of the similarities between Princess Diana and her ancestor, the subject of this book, Georgiana Spencer. This notion of their similarities was reason for me NOT to read the book---hadn't we already had way too much of the Spencer family in recent years, without going back a couple of centuri ...more
Sep 13, 2012 Hala rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
شوفته كفيلم وسحرني ،، وقعدت طول اليوم غضبانه منها

هي كانت بنت عيلة غنية ومتعلمة كويس جدا وذكية اوي

تنبض بالحيوية ،، description
ويجبروها على طريقتنا من الزواج من الدوق
اللي كان كل همه انه يخلف ولاد وطبعا بيعمل علاقات جنسية مع ستات كتير

الدوقة كانت بتلعب قمار وبتهتم بالازياء جدا لدرجة انها كانت ملفته في جميع الحفلات

زواجها جلب لها التعاسة لانه ايه فايدة انك عايشة مع واحد مش بتحبيه ولا شبهك في التطلعات وكمان متطلب

وماعندوش ادنى من الحنان او حتى التفهّم

القاصمة انه نام مع صاحبتها
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وكان بيرعى ولادها الصب
Sep 26, 2013 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: four-star
A riveting biography of one of the most famous women the 18th century, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who found overnight fame when she married an extremely influential member of the aristocracy. Throughout her lifetime, the Duchess even surpasses the popularity of her husband, whilst using her close connections to the country's leading politicians to influence change.

Foreman manages to create a thoroughly intimate and humanistic portrait of the Duchess; whilst offering readers a snapshot of
What a meaty, thorough book. At times I found the level of detail overwhelming, but there were also some very interesting bits about women in politics. Georgiana seemed like a vivacious, restless, generous, somewhat naive, character.

I found the descriptions of Georgiana's relationships and lifestyle to be somewhat galling. I won't spoil the book, but her choice of best friend seemed more like a life-long albatross than an ally. I almost felt sorry for her.

I'm very curious to see the movie now.
Georgiana was a wealthy, titled lady who married into an even wealthier, better titled family* and spent the remainder of her days being a leader of fashion and politics. This was an excellent biography of a notable woman. Unlike ealier time periods, this was an era of paper. All of Georgiana's friends, relatives and enemies wrote daily; the correspondance about her would alone provide material enough for a book. In addition, she was daily featured in newspapers and cartoons, novels (including h ...more
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Amanda Foreman is the author of the award-winning best seller, "Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire", and A World on Fire: A Epic History of Two Nations Divided. She lives in New York with her husband and five children.

She is the daughter of Carl Foreman, the Oscar-winning screen writer of many film classics including, The Bridge on the River Kwai, High Noon, and The Guns of Navarone.

She was born in
More about Amanda Foreman...

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