With penetrating insight, Amanda Foreman reveals a fascinating woman whose struggle against her own weaknesses, whose great beauty and flamboyance, and whose determination to play a part in the affairs of the world make her a vibrant, astonishingly contemporary figure.
©2008 Amanda Foreman; (P)2009 Tantor
Narrative makes the world go round.
In the intro, Foreman claims to have written this book alongside her doctoral thesis on the Duchess. The book contains all the history of a dissertation meticuloulsy researched through what seems like kilotons of correspondence and records, but reads like a novel. 5 stars to Foreman for weaving such a tale from letters copiously quoted. The excellent narration contributed to the seemless flow of the story.
And what a story! Don't come to this because the Duchess is a distant ancestor of Lady Di, read it for the adventure of the women herself.
I think this can be enjoyed by a wide range of listeners, from those with a serious interest in 18th century history or lit to fans of Geogette Heyer novels (though I suspect many with a "serious" interest in history and lit do enjoy Heyer's novels -- and, after learning about some of the larger-than-life charactrs in this autobiography, I have more respect for Heyer's farces.)
Foreman is deliberately exploring the life of the political/economic upper, upper class, so this is of course a very partial picture of life in England at the time, when so much misery and physical brutality defined the life of the poor.
If I'd read this book before seeing the movie starring Keira Knightley, the film would have been a serious disappointment, being the usual Hollywood fluff, merely a excuse for sumptuous costumes and sets. This book shows us that Princess Diana came by her neuroses legitimately. Her ancestor, Lady Georgiana Spencer, suffered from eating disorders, a gambling addiction, substance abuse, and many other psychological afflictions. She was totally out of control financially, having no respect for money. Although she gained political success in England, it was due more from her need for attention than any real feelings for social change. The film makes it out like her husband was some kind of monster who forced into extramarital affairs and out-of-wedlock children but the Duke was more patient with her than a lot of men. (Prince Charles put up with Diana's nonsense about a long as he could before he realized that his wife would not make a stable Queen Consort). Like Princess Diana, Lady Georgiana set the tone for fashion among her peers and subjects and was generally loved by the people. But both women were neurotic, irresponsible, and immature. If not for her untimely death, Diana would have self-destructed if she'd continued on like her ancestor. This is a great book, well-research and insightful. Georgiana's life was NOT the stuff of Hollywood. As with the former Princess of Wales, it was a tragic and tortured life.
I love historical fiction and although I realize this book is more of a biographical history of the Duchess of Devonshire than a fictional novel, it does not disappoint. It's a good "story" of her life, based on well researched facts and letters, but it doesn't bore one to death. In fact, I could hardly stop listening. That's either a testament to Georgiana's fascinating life and exploits, or the author's writing ability, or both. Either way, I highly recommend it.
Wanda McCaddon's elocution is magnificent. I have several other audio sets and audible.com selections in which she is the narrator. The sound of her voice enhances the books with each reading.
It is the true story of a remarkable, young woman born into high society yet held back by her own sex. Georgiana still achieved much for herself, and had she lived in the twentieth century instead of the eighteenth, she might have accomplished so much more. She struggled, much like her great-great-great-grand-niece Diana, Princess of Wales, against a powerful dynasty, a distant, philandering husband, and a voracious media so eager to reveal too much about her private life. Like her collateral descendent, Georgiana also loved her children, adored ordinary children, had many lovers, an eating disorder, and endured constant scandals that threatened to undermine her reputation, yet she perservered in the hearts of the British people. This is a fitting tribute to a long forgotten figure in English history, and a superb debut by an American scholar. Georgiana, as was Diana, was truly a heroine of her time.
Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, although surrounded by giants of history including Marie Antionette, George IV, King George and Queen Charlotte, and so many others, still stands out as one of the most intriguing figures of her age.
My only reaction was my disbelief that the other woman in the Duchess's marriage, the ruthless, promiscuous Lady Elizabeth Foster, was never shown the door. She was Georgiana's best friend, yet she bedded every man in sight and abused the Duke and Duchess's hospitality for twenty-five years. Ironically, by contrast, I have more sympathy for the present Duchess of Cornwall because I don't believe that she set out to ruin Diana's marriage. The same cannot be said for "Bess" Foster, who went after the Duke with single-minded determination.
This is a biography that reads like a novel. Few scholarly works have ever illuminated its subject so well. Georgiana's story reads as if it could have happened in any time. As an eighteenth century time capsule it is without parallel. Indeed, it will be remembered as a parallel cautionary tale to that of the modern Princess of Wales, who also died young and left behind an extraordinary legacy. It is an astonishing body of work about a truly unique lady.
It felt like being taken back in time and into the world of the characters
The Author was my favorite as she put so much intensity into the book that her reflections were like an additional character.
I had no idea just how intellectual and avant guard Georgiana really was. I loved hearing how she impacted the world of politics and knowledge in her time.
The film was not nearly as informative as the book, in fact it sensationalized but at the same time glossed over the most sensational aspect which was that the duchess was a very modern woman living in a world where women could and did make a difference.
Fantastic reader, her voice added to the ambiance of the story.
My husband listened with me on vacation and we both will miss the people of the story.
Awful. Bland. Painfully uninteresting. Simply could not continue reading. Accent in the narration was silly. Just unreadable.
Great biography of interesting woman. Georgiana may not be the most likable subject but her life is fascinating and makes for a great read
author of Lowcountry Legend's series
Maybe because this was Foreman's first book is the issue. I am uncertain as A World On Fire was such a difficult subject and so vast, but she handled it well. This one, well, didn't capture the time or the person for me. There was certainly enough information for it as well, so i just didn't enjoy it.
Ms.McCaddon's command of French and her narration, was of great benefit in reading "The Duchess." It takes a while but, once your hooked, your hooked. Wonderful history lesson.
Thank you Ms Foreman!
When the Duchess and sister Harrietta are canvassing votes for Mr. Fox.
I have not listened to Ms. McCaddon before.
I would say READ the Book FIRST! Then watch the movie for the costume design.
This is a confusing ,and very disappointing audiobook.I have listened too hundreds of audiobooks,this is the worst i've heard.the story jumps from year to the next and back again and Again.i could not keep up with the story between so many different charaters and the time frame jumping back and forward. Could'nt wait for it too be over,Don't waste your credits.Sad too say the movie was 10 times better
"great book, shame about the reader"
I had already read this book and thoroughly enjoyed it, interesting from both a political point of view and the Duchess's life. However, the reader speaks very quickly and you do not get chance to digest the nuances of the written word. as time went on I found it more and more irritating. Would suggest you listen to the book for as long as possible before you buy.
"An entertaining informative and compelling listen"
I greatly enjoyed this audiobook. While revealing a great deal about society and politics in the eighteenth century the book also manages to be highly entertaining and compelling. Based upon extensive research in archives in Britain, particularly at Chatsworth House, the book presents a detailed picture of the life of Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire, a life which is certainly compelling and worthy of investigation. Her involvement in Whig politics during the crucial period of the American and French Revolutions, as well as the Regency crisis, says much both about 18th century politics and the role of women in society. Georgiana was a leading socialite who had several extra-marital affairs and gave birth to two illegitimate children, as well as bringing up her husband's illegitimate child and living in a triad with her husband and her best friend, Lady Elizabeth Foster. This makes the book a fascinating insight into the social manners and mores of the 18th century aristocracy. I found the narration excellent. The narrator did an excellent job of bringing out the different characters without the use of what with some narrators seem to be rather comic accents. I found the pace of narration perfect, but I do often find other narrators annoyingly slow. Overall, I thought this was a great listen and I highly enjoyed it.
"The reader got me nervous."
I agree completely with the previous review. I am Spanish and I buy the audio books to improve my English. The reader speaks so fast that I lost 50 % of the history on the way. I gave up in the middle of the book.
Next time I will listen carefully the reader before buying.
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