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Nancy: The Story of Lady Astor

3.51  ·  Rating details ·  231 ratings  ·  44 reviews
A new biography of Nancy Astor, American socialite and social crusader who blazed a trail through British society amid two World Wars

In 1919, Nancy Astor became the first female Member of Parliament elected to the House of Commons—she was not what had been expected. Far from a virago who had suffered for the cause of female suffrage, Lady Astor was already near the center
...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published January 22nd 2013 by St. Martin's Press (first published October 1st 2012)
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Average rating 3.51  · 
Rating details
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Petra-X is getting covered in Soufriere ash
Nancy was one of the many Americans whose family desired that they have a title. Most of the girls who married into aristocracy had family money, she did too, but not the endless riches that made them so attractive to the Dukes and Lords of the day. Nonetheless, she was shipped off to England after having made a pretty bad first marriage and she duly married into fame, fortune and a title.

In some ways she was a great lady who achieved much as the first female Member of Parliament, but the book
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Nigeyb
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book. I came to this book with only scant knowledge of Nancy aka Lady Astor. The main source of my knowledge was a book I'd read by her loyal maid Rosina Harrison called "Gentlemen's Gentlemen" which focussed on British butlers and which extensively featured Edwin Lee who was Lady Astor's head butler for most of her life in England. From that book all I had gleaned was that she was an American, who had relocated to England, and become an aristocratic woman of power and social si ...more
Bettie
Oct 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: BBC radio listeners


BOTW

BBC blurb: The first of five extracts from a new biography of Nancy Astor, the first woman to take a seat in the British Parliament. Born in 1879, hers was a fascinating life: from straitened beginnings in the Civil War-ravaged Deep South of America, to marriage into one of the world's richest families, to a straight-talking campaign conducted door-to-door in one of the most deprived areas of Plymouth which brought her a political career that lasted more than two decades (from 1919 - until
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Nick Turner
Oct 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: past, adventure
Inspiring biography of the first woman to take a seat in the British Parliament. I listened to an abridged audio adaptation in five parts read by Anna Maxwell Martin, and abridged by Alison Joseph.

Viscountess Astor

Born in 1879, hers was a fascinating life: from straitened beginnings in the Civil War-ravaged Deep South of America, to marriage into one of the world's richest families, to a straight-talking campaign conducted door-to-door in one of the most deprived areas of Plymouth which brought her a politic
...more
Laura
Oct 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Wanda
Recommended to Laura by: Bettie
From BBC radio 4 - Book of the week:
The first of five extracts from a new biography of Nancy Astor, the first woman to take a seat in the British Parliament. Born in 1879, hers was a fascinating life: from straitened beginnings in the Civil War-ravaged Deep South of America, to marriage into one of the world's richest families, to a straight-talking campaign conducted door-to-door in one of the most deprived areas of Plymouth which brought her a political career that lasted more than two decades
...more
Caroline
It is a curiously little-known fact that the first female MP in the Houses of Parliament was not in fact British at all but American. She was not a feminist or a suffragette, not a born radical bent on upsetting societal norms or conventions. Far from it, she was wealthy in her own right and married to yet more immense wealth in the shape of her husband, an heir of the Astor millions, mixing in the highest circles of British social life. Her position as a trailblazer in feminist politics came ab ...more
Beth (bibliobeth)
This book deserves three and a half stars in my opinion. I really wasn't sure about it until halfway through when the personality of Nancy completely drew me in. She was far from perfect – she had a tendency to bully people (her children in particular suffered for this), she had strident views on sex, drink and religion, and her tongue could be as sharp as a knife. But she also had a tremendous wit, the ability to say what she liked without fear of repercussion, and outstanding courage. She was ...more
Val
Mar 04, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: group, non-fiction
There are earlier biographies of Nancy Astor, although they seem to have all gone out of print. This is a new one (released October 2012 and January 2013).
Nancy was an interesting, lively and energetic woman and deserves to have a biography in print. This one introduces no new material and skirts quickly past her least attractive opinions, although it is not a complete hagiography. Adrian Fort does not seem to have made any attempt to understand her or her politics. In fact politics is almost co
...more
Nancy
Sigh.... This failure has more to do with me than with the book. The book was interesting. It wasn't tedious or boring. But what I think happened are that the margins are too small. The font is too small. There's too many words per page. I was somehow overwhelmed and after reading only 3 pages, would promptly fall asleep. So after spending 2 months reading this book and only progressing to page 59, I give up. From now on, I'll stick with the "Who was" series if I want to read a biography. ...more
Joanne
Mar 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
This is a fascinating book about a fascinating woman. I knew of Nancy Astor of course, she was the
first woman MP to take her seat in the House of Commons, but I didn't know anything of her life beyond this. I had assumed that she had always been rich, but in fact her childhood had periods where her parents struggled for money. She was born into the Langhorne family of Virginia, who had been wealthy, but the Civil War wrecked their fortunes. Nancy's father, Chillie Langhorne, had to virtually sta
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Yasmin
Sep 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Some say with figures from the past it is wise not to put 21st century values on people from the 19th to early 20th centuries. Well I was born in the late 20th century. Lady Astor as the author likes to mention, if not coming right out and saying so, was a modern woman. What kind of modern woman was she? She was apparently a control freak, she was manipulative, domineering, selfish, inconsiderate, callous, harsh, rude, but somewhere in her "slight, frail" body a kind heart and a sharp wit. The e ...more
Roberta  Lynne  Ruben
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lady Nancy Astor, first women to be elected to the British Parliament. Following the suffrage movement winning women the right to vote in Great Britain, She served first in the House of Lords in 1919. After 25 years winning seats in both houses for 25 years. She and her husband ran her campaigns together while he served the government through both World Wars. A wonderful read about a courageous and wealthy American women who became the spokesperson for health care and women’s and children’s legi ...more
Kym Hamer
I visited Cliveden for the first time last year and it was on the guided tour where I first learned about Nancy Astor and was inspired to read about her. She was quite an extraordinary woman by this account and while I'm not sure that I particularly liked her, Adrian Fort does a fantastic job of painting a picture of her lifestyle, passions and those that she loved and spent time with. I knew she was the first female MP but I had no idea about her work in Plymouth (her constituency) or what a wo ...more
Jo
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book has taken me a month and more to read although I have put it aside for chapters of other books during that time. I was keen to learn more of the life of the first woman MP who had set up the Virginia House Settlement in Plymouth, in whose buildings I now live. I found the book turgid and Nancy Astor irritating. She did so much of worth but her bullying behaviour of other people, including her own children, and the hurt she caused did not endear her to me. I’m glad to have read it but w ...more
Daniel Kukwa
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A woman of contradictory ideologies, feelings, and ambitions...but also a woman determined to be unstoppable, and liver her life as the most unique individual she could possibly be...no matter how insufferable this might be to those around her. In this age of resurgent gender politics, the story of Nancy Astor make for fascinating reading...and Adrian Fort's biography tells her story in a very engrossing manner. Nancy Astor's story deserves to be remembered far more than it is today, and this bo ...more
Elaine
Jul 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unexpected history lesson

Overall well an interesting book I was not impressed by the style it read like a history book. And was a bit difficult to finish. It led me to some interesting research about the times especially about World War II but it was hard for me to like the main character
Janet
Jun 01, 2019 rated it liked it
I would have given this 3 and 1/2 stars, but that is not an option on Goodreads. Interesting story about Lady Astor, but it bogged down a little with too much description of Parliament and politics. She was certainly an interesting character.
T
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never knew that this outspoken American was the first woman to serve in Parliament. She worked ceaselessly on war efforts during both world wars, and also for women's rights. What a character! ...more
Sherri
Jun 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
I have no doubt Nancy Astor's life was fascinating and worth reading about, but this writer's work did not excite me or draw me in. Too bad. ...more
JoJo
Dec 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have always known of Nancy Astor, but not of her story and in this book it is well written and in a way that makes it both readable and informative.
Charity
Sep 26, 2020 rated it did not like it
Not well written
De
Could not get in to it
Stephanie Patterson
Feb 23, 2013 rated it really liked it


Nancy Astor turns up in my reading all the time. Her name comes up in almost any discussion of wartime England. This is the first chance I’ve had to read a full scale biography. Astor is often erroneously identified as the first woman elected to the British Parliament. She was indeed the first woman to sit in Parliament but not the first elected.
That honor belongs to a Sinn Fein candidate, Constance Markiewicz, a well-born Irish woman who married a Polish count and became a revolutionary (Not
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Kathleen
Sep 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
A remarkable life although not always the best judgment shown in some ways. But a great desire to serve and to make a difference in public affairs.
Jo
Chapters seemed somewhat disjointed. One minute, you're reading about what she's doing in Parliament, the next, she's having a personal spat with someone or traveling here or there. Suddenly, a death is mentioned, and if the reader is unfamiliar with who's who in her life, they're left scratching their head as to who this person even was and how the loss personally affected her.
This biography didn't really flesh Nancy Astor out enough for me.
She was such a multifaceted, complex woman and I feel
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Sue Pit
Mar 29, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Upon reading about Winston Churchill, the name of Nancy Astor came up from time time as a parliamentarian. When I saw this book on display, I then recalled the name but was a bit askance at reading about someone whom oft was at odds with Winston Churchill notably as an appeaser of Hitler pre-WWII. But bought it I did and it was an interesting read as to how an American woman from a southern family struggling from the effects of the Civil War became the first woman to sit in the House of Commons ...more
judy
By page 162, I had to ask myself--Why do I care? The answer was--I don't. She(an American)was the first woman to take a seat in the British Parliament. She did nothing significant while there and was, by no means, a feminist. Apart from that, she was obscenely wealthy; the mistress of Cliveden where all notable English citizens and vistors went to meet and exchange views; and, she was noted for her beauty and sharp tongue. Had she not had so much money she would have been called "rude"--or worse ...more
Robert
Mar 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started off really well and then bogged down in the middle,picked up a little toward the end but overall rather disappointing. Would have liked more on the Astor family and her relationship with them rather than the politics. Necessary to a degree but tedious after her initial entry to the British Parliament, where after her brave role as the first woman MP she rather lost the plot when other far more competent women MPs joined the fray and should have got out. Would have liked more on Cliveden' ...more
Celeste Fritz
Dec 24, 2013 rated it liked it
This was our book club's selection, as there is a review event in January. It was interesting learning how an American woman became the first female MP in Britain,but I didn't find Nancy to be a very like able person. I also thought the author did a lot of name-dropping of people big in U.K. politics during the early 20th century. This got to be. Rey dull and confusing. I enjoyed the story of Lady Almina more. ...more
Lesley
Feb 12, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A biography of Lady Astor, first woman to take a seat in the House of Commons. I was fascinated to learn of her early years and of her determined progress through life. I think the book was a little too long, my interest started to wane by WW2. Nonetheless, a worthwhile read.
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Adrian Fort was educated at Oxford, where he was a Clarendon Fellow. He practiced as a lawyer and became involved with politics before pursuing a financial career.

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