Patti Wigington's Reviews > The Duchess

The Duchess by Amanda Foreman
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May 12, 11

Read in May, 2011

Really loved this - it paints a fascinating portrait of a woman who was far ahead of her time, and one of the first tabloid darlings. Georgiana Spencer Cavendish had a serious gambling problem and lost most of her money, she was a bit of a laudanum addict, drank too much and had an eating disorder. However, she also was active in politics, wrote plays and poems, studies minerals and astronomy, and did far more than just sit around being decorative.

What I found most interesting was the portrayals of her husband, the Duke of Devonshire, and her friend (and the Duke's mistress), Lady Elizabeth Foster. While the film adaptation of this book is quite good, it really does Devonshire and Bess a disservice - he is shown as a vicious monster and she's a scheming tart. In Foreman's book, we come to know both the Duke and Bess much better, and they are - much like Georgiana -- products of their times. Despite their shortcomings, Georgiana loved them both deeply.

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