The tumult and opulence of England’s Regency era burst from the pages in this work of literary nonfiction by acclaimed author Carolly Erickson. When dementia forces King George III to vacate his throne, the kingdom slips into a decade marked with excess, scandal, and riots. King George has suffered bouts of mental instability before, but in 1810 he shows no signs of recovering. Public and government business halts as word of his condition leaks out. Hoping to control the crisis, Parliament appoints the king’s unpopular son Prince George IV as Regent or caretaker. But for the next nine years, this substitute ruler shocks the nation with his drunkenness, his mistresses, and his wanton spending. From seething mobs in the streets to Lucullan feasts in drawing rooms, historian Carolly Erickson vividly captures the nation in a troubled transition. With narrator Simon Prebble’s dramatic performance, the splendor and intrigue of Regency England are as enthralling as the most entertaining novel.
©1986 Carolly Erickson (P)1998 Recorded Books, LLC
This is not a scholarly historical piece. The author spends too much time telling us how the regent "feels" and writes as though she was a witness to King George's mental deterioration. But it presents a great snapshot of history during a very specific decade in a way that is easy to follow, yet still has enough fact and detail that most readers can walk away learning something new about the time period. And while the book spends a great deal of time on the celebrities and main events of the decade, Waterloo, Napoleon, Byron and the Prince Regent, it also provides detail on "celebrities" of the time that are not household names today and also talks about events that occurred beyond those that are covered in a English history textbook. And through the writings of actual eyewitnesses of the period - regular people - we get a better idea of the day-to-day lives of those who lived through the period that were not poets, generals or royals.
If you are looking for a broad overview of this time, a book that is understandable to a reader without a degree in English history, this is a good book for you. And as usual, Simon Prebble's narration makes it fun to listen to.
"fabric artist and quilter"
Poor George III wasn't mad but suffered from Porphyria which gave him delusions and many other problems and clearly was unfit to rule so in stepped his hated son Prinie, Prince George Prince of Wales as regent for 10 years. Corpulent, libertine, spendthrift, his wife was banned from court, he was deluded part of the time and the rest of the time confused, unwell and on a shopping spree that knew no end. It was not a balanced or easy time in England's history - we were at war with Napoleon, and with the United States and at war with the peasantry and mill workers at home.
It was no wonder those that had money spent it like water they didn't know if they had a tomorrow. Listening to the outrageous spending had me open mouthed gasping for air like a cod fish on the deck of a ship.
It was most interesting to listen to as a back ground to the Jane Austen's I've recently read but it didn't provide much back ground to them but it was very revealing listening. Sit there, gasp, and clutch your pearls in surprise as you listen to the excesses that went on - its most interesting.
"Good, but incomplete"
This book is a good and informative read, although within limits. Instead of a coherent history of the Regency period, it is a series of cameos on different characters, issues or areas, some of which naturally get repeated to a certain extent. They tend to deal with politics, literature, Royalty and high society rather than the common people.
I did notice a few historical errors in some of the bits I already knew about (i.e. there were a few in the description of the Battle of Waterloo). While this dents the author's credibility a bit, they were fairly minor, and perhaps to be expected in such a sweeping study.
Overall, a good general introduction.
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