Ticket to Read Book Challenge 2018 discussion

The Mistresses of Cliveden: Three Centuries of Scandal, Power and Intrigue in an English Stately Home
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2. Destination you'd visit > The Mistresses of Cliveden: Three Centuries of Scandal, Passion and Intrigue in an English Stately Home

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Betsy (betsywuebker) | 27 comments Mod
This is the first book I'm reading for the challenge! And already I'm hooked on all the period details about how 17th and 18th century women were generally subject to a double standard until something miraculous like a strategic marriage or royal financial reward entered the picture. Still, the press and court were pretty vicious, but you could rise above this with enough money. I'd like to cruise the Thames past Windsor Castle to see this house from the water, which is how its owners and their guests would most frequently arrive.


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Mary Manzanares | 73 comments Mod
This sounds interesting - adding it to my to-read shelf.


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Lisa Chavis | 2 comments This one does look interesting. It’s now on the list! Thanks ladies for putting this group together - looking forward to finding more reading treasures.


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Laura (wwwgoodreadscomlaura_wilson) | 3 comments This does look interesting. On my very long list. So many books, so little time. . . . lol.


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Mary Manzanares | 73 comments Mod
If you like this genre, Betsy, you might like Belgravia. The author was involved with Downton Abbey and has written a number of books on similar themes.


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Brenda Tolentino (brendatolentino) | 1 comments Mod
I’d really love to read this too, maybe in Feb.


Betsy (betsywuebker) | 27 comments Mod
Mary Jo wrote: "If you like this genre, Betsy, you might like Belgravia. The author was involved with Downton Abbey and has written a number of books on similar themes." Added it to my list! I love Julian Fellowes.


Betsy (betsywuebker) | 27 comments Mod
Okay, I've finished! I really wanted to rate this book four stars, but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. Maybe 3.5?

I felt the author, who owns the house now by the way, was hampered in her ability to bring the early characters to life. I think this was due to the nature of the information available - 17th and 18th century correspondence is difficult to decipher all but the basic personalities. She was left to research other outlets, including the politically motivated press - if we think the press today is brutal, it's got nothing on the 18th century, where at least one of the mistresses of the house was called a whore and other names. The record is soooo salacious, but her characterizations still fell flat. :-/

They started to get better with the 19th century, when the house's mistress was the best friend of Queen Victoria.

Fortunately, the book is saved by the author's complex portrait of one of the most interesting owners: Lady Nancy Astor, a Virginian who married very well (LOL) and was elected to fill her husband's seat in the House of Commons after he was vested with an inherited title. She was the first female Member of Parliament, perhaps a German sympathizer in the period between the wars, and a very crotchety (and bigoted) old lady. In the 60s, the house was the scene of an encounter which brought down the MacMillan government; at its center was a 19-year-old call girl.

What I learned: a lot about the foundations of the landed classes, the nuances of title, and the historical interplay between the peerage and the government in Britain. I think it's a good book to read if you plan to visit Cliveden and other Great Houses, or if you want an insight into feminist politics in the early and mid 20th century, and if you're open to a relatively sympathetic treatment of several of those in politics who sought to avoid WWII via appeasement.


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Judy (judymcp) | 1 comments I should have waited until you finished it before I ordered it, but I plan to persevere. The Profuma Affair is the inspiration for an episode of The Crown, but it's glossed over such that I had to look it up to even get the basics. It'll be interesting to see how this book handles it.


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Mary Manzanares | 73 comments Mod
Hmmmmmm, now I have plenty to think about. Still interested, but probably pushing it a bit further down the list.


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Belgravia (other topics)