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3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  879 ratings  ·  153 reviews
With the death of her fabulously wealthy coal magnate father when she was just eleven, Mary Eleanor Bowes became the richest heiress in Britain. An ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II, Mary grew to be a highly educated young woman, winning acclaim as a playwright and botanist. Courted by a bevy of eager suitors, at eighteen she married the handsome but aloof ninth Earl of Strat...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published February 9th 2010 by Crown Publishing Group (first published 2009)
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THIS book is the perfect example of why I love historical non-fiction. Based on well researched and documented sources, author Wendy Moore has penned an incredible, almost-defies-belief account of the life of Mary Eleanor Bowes, an ancestor of Queen Elizabeth II (via the late Queen Mother). Just how well researched and documented can be attested by the 40 plus pages of meticulous end notes found at the end of the book. Wedlock is, quite simply, one of the most riveting books I've ever had the...more
Pete daPixie
Here is another very kind donation to my reading pile by a neighbour of mine who was having 'a clear out'. She knows that I am a reader of historical non-fiction, so I was in receipt of a large collection of books, of which this one was included. To be honest I didn't quite fancy this, perhaps the title 'Wedlock-How Georgian Britain's Worst Husband Met His Match' didn't fire my interest. Don't judge a book by it's title, could be the maxim here.
Wendy Moore's biography of the Countess of Strathmo...more
Mary Eleanor Bowes was a lucky girl. An only child, she was indulged and educated but was also an heiress. Her first marriage wasn't really much, Lord Strathmore or John Lyon, wasn't really a good match, he didn't really approve of her botanical studies (though he didn't stop her); and he was a little jealous of the wealth she brought into the relationship, along with stipulations. In 18th Century England a woman owned nothing, it was the males in her life that owned things, she was completely d...more
Jean Godwin Carroll
Aug 13, 2009 Jean Godwin Carroll rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Phillipa Gregory
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent book set in the 1770's in England. A reminder that women previously had zero rights afforded to them by law during that time. Mary Eleanor Bowes was a wealthy woman who was swindled into marrying a lowly military officer, Richard Stoney. Once married, everything she owned became his to do with as he pleased. Over the course of eight years, he squandered all of her money on gambling, prostitutes; kept her as a prisoner, and beat her savagely on a regular basis. This was actually allowed...more
Set against the background of Georgian England, this is an extraordinary family history as Mary Eleanor, Countess of Strathmore, is tricked into marriage with Andrew Robinson Stoney, an itinerant soldier.

How she paid for her mistake is almost unbelievable as her husband is not only a serial philanderer (how many illegitimate children he fathered is difficult to keep track of unless one has an abacus at one's side while reading the book) but an absolute brute of a husband who constantly beat his...more
Apr 04, 2012 Carol rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history and social sciences majors
Shelves: history, biography
So many facts! A Goodreads friend recommended this when I asked a question. I wanted to get back into biographies, which I had not read in years. I think she also knew that I liked historical fiction. So this was a good choice.

Wedlock is so full of facts that it did not read so much as a biography, but a history dissertation. How anyone would find this much information on one person is amazing to me. Information for this woman and the period.

What was transfixing was the nature of the news, jou...more
Lisa (scarlet21)
An interesting and fascinating insight into marriage, life and love in the Georgian era, where the majority of the upper and middle classes married for money and bloodline and where most women had no say whatsoever in how their lives were run. At a time when mistresses and illigitimate offspring were accepted by spouses, though sometimes hidden away, women were owned by their menfolk and the rule of thumb was law; this is a story that will resonate with modern horror stories of spousal abuse but...more
Nov 07, 2011 Donna rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
Recommended to Donna by: a colleague
As a woman, this is the kind of book that makes you glad you're alive now, and appalled by the inequality that those before us suffered through.

This is a truly remarkable tale of survival - the story in Mary Eleanor, Countess od Strathmore, who was tricked into marrying a monster. Written in a clear voice with the dramatic balancing the factual, this is a captivating biography that will keep you hooked from start to finish.
Jun 03, 2014 Wanda marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wanda by: Bettie
3 JUN 2014 -- arrived today from Bettie. Thank you very much! This looks to be quite the read. Perfect for Summer.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kay Bolton
Review taken from my Blog Post #110 in April 2011, after borrowing the book from the library.

This should have been entitled "You Couldn't Make it Up .... Seriously" a masterpiece of a Biography on the Heiress Mary Eleanor Bowes and detailing her first marriage to the Earl of Strathmore (making them the great-great-great-grandparents of our deceased Queen Mother, Elizabeth (Bowes-Lyon) and her second marriage to Irishman Andrew Robinson Stoney ..... note I said Irishman, not gentleman .... he mos...more
Kerin Ingman
Well what can I say about this book

This is a story of a Georgian amazingly wealthy heiress (and ancestor of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother and therefore Queen Elizabeth II) who was married off to the Earl of Strathmore. After the end of the loveless marriage she ends up marrying Captain Stoney (where the phrase 'stoney broke' comes from) whether she did this because she was naive, stupid or was manipulated by Captain Stoney (or a combination of all three) is not me to decide but the real story...more
I love history, especially high profile characters and their crazy true lives. The subject of this book was great. I felt that the author did a lot of research and knew the subject very well. I learned a lot about the time. I am also reading "vanity fair" which takes place in this time.

Eventually I got a bit tired of the whole "women had no rights!!!" mantra. I mean, it was true, and that was bad, but do we have to say it on every page?

I felt that the writer talked down to me, occasionally overe...more
Mary Eleanor Bowes was born in 1749. Her father was extremely wealthy and, unusually for the time, had her well educated. A most eligible young woman, not least because she was the richest heiress in C18th Britain. Her first wedding was nothing unusual for the time. Pretty loveless and to an older man it wasn’t a romantic love match. Her second, to a dashing young soldier, was. Mary Eleanor probably hadn’t intended to marry Andrew Robinson Stoney, but upon hearing that he had fought a duel for h...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I absolutely loved this book. It's a truly fascinating read about a very strong woman, who manages to escape an horrifically abusive marriage during the 18th century via divorce. And she managed to escape with most of her fortune intact, as well as with her children. All of which was virtually unheard of until, really, the 20th century. Although heartbreaking in many ways, I couldn't help but be utterly inspired. And the author managed to take a real life event and turn it into a riveting story....more
An outrageous and tawdry tale!
Fantastically researched, it is a fascinating and thrilling story.
Pru Sly
Rattled through this one as the story is SUCH a winner! The absolute depravity of this foul man makes a rollicking good read and it was fabulous that he got his just deserts through the sheer bloody-minded of a strong woman fighting against all odds in a time when women's right simply didn't exist. Closed the cover and immediately recommended it to a friend and thoroughly expect it to do the rounds of all the girls.
This is the story of Mary Eleanor Bowes, born in 1789, the attractive, educated and pampered only child of an extremely wealthy County Durham coal magnate. Her father died when she was a child and she almost immediately became a target for fortune hunters. In Georgian Britain rich people did not often marry for love, and this was the case with Mary Eleanor. Her first marriage, to the Earl of Strathmore, wasn't happy, but fairly brief; he died after they had been married for eight years. But it w...more
Liz Barr
A rather harrowing account of an abusive marriage in the Georgian era. Mary Eleanor Bowes is intelligent and educated, but demonstrates rather poor judgment in the year of her widowhood, culminating in her marriage to a fortunehunter. After enduring eight years of abuse, she leaves her husband, at which point he goes the full Saatchi -- smearing her reputation, attacking her in public, and finally abducting her outright.

Not a book for the fainthearted, but I was glad to have, for once, a tail o...more
Lynn Moore
Well researched detailed historical biography which reads like a modern thriller. Hard to believe it is a true true story at times. Inspiring story of a strong woman fighting against an abusive husband and a more abusive legal system. Gripping.
This book is a 4.5/5 star read for me. It was like a really good soap opera what this woman went through that it is hard to believe it really happened. I think the other thing that stood out to me was the unbending strenght of her.
Rosemary Wong
I had started reading this book a while ago but for some reason, didn't get far into it. Luckily I picked it up again and this time I couldn't put it down. I can't quite believe that this actually happened and that such a man existed! The story of Mary Eleanor Bowes' life was taken from her own personal journal, as well as documents from historical archives. Wendy Moore has painted a very detailed picture of what aristocratic life was like in Georgian times, and it makes for fascinating reading....more
Elizabeth Moffat
This book wasn't what I expected it to be but still a good read! I loved mary eleanor and couldn't believe the traumas she went through. Very interesting!
An enthralling account of the marriage and divorce proceedings of the Queen Mother's great great great grandmother.
It is historically fascinating as well as being relatively easy to read. The content becomes more and more interesting as the history proceeds so although it may be initially cumbersome you soon get swept up by the events .
The acknowledgements made me feel exhausted as the research that went into this biography is astounding.
It has been written like a novel with each chapter gene...more
A spoiled young heiress (ancestor of the late Queen Mum) is targeted by gold-diggers and eventually tricked into marrying a charmer who turns out to be savagely abusive and unhinged (I mean, wow). Under Georgian law, however, divorce is almost impossible (each one requiring an Act of Parliament), and wives have no legal identity or rights, so they can't do anything about the most severe abuse. The case of Mary Eleanor Bowes is remarkable in that, with the help of a few loyal servants, she actual...more
Cynthia Varady
The devil is in the details, and it would be an understatement to say that this biography is hot with the little horned beast. Wendy Moore takes great pains to describe every last facet the sordid story of Mary Eleanor Bowes' marriage to Andrew Robinson Stoney, as well as everything that went on around them, right down to the room décor. Thankfully Moore's writing style is fast paced and at times akin to that of a gossip rag, so just when I felt like I was drowning in minutia, I would again be e...more
Sarah Norman
A rare burst of non-fiction.

This book tells the story of Mary Eleanor Bowes, a woman of the seventeenth century, who was the wealthiest heiress in England, and possibly in Europe. At one point a certain Capt Stoney defends her honour in a duel, and she is assured by multiple medical men that he is about to die. His dying wish is to marry her, and in a burst of romance, she does so. Hours after the ceremony, he miraculously recovers.

He then starts to spend her money with a vengence. He does other...more
Whilst reading this book my overwhelming thought was "thank God I wasnt alive in the times this harrowing story happened." Every woman should read this book and be truly grateful for the progress that has been made with regard to womens rights in the last 200 years. It is almost unbelievable how Mary Eleanor Bowes was treated by her second husband, Andrew Robinson Stoney, a greedy and ambitious Irish adventuring nobody.

One of the wealthiest heiresses in England, Mary Eleanor was duped into marr...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Wendy Moore worked as a journalist and freelance writer for more than 25 years. She has always been interested in history, and as a result, began researching the history of medicine.

The Knife Man is her first book.
More about Wendy Moore...
The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery How to Create the Perfect Wife: Britain's Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate

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