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Publisher's Summary

Emma Hamilton was England's first superstar. She fought her way out of dire poverty to become a fashion icon, an Ambassador's wife, a confidante of both Marie Antoinette and the Queen of Naples, and the mistress of Lord Nelson, England's greatest military hero.

Emma set out to make herself a star, and she succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. By her early 20s, she was the most painted woman of her day. Her "Attitudes" — classical postures in diaphanous outfits — thrilled aristocrats and intellectuals, while her innovations in fashion and dress changed the way women looked forever. Shrewdly manipulating the media's fascination with her, Emma made herself into the most famous woman in England, desired by every man she met, adored by thousands, and, for a time, very rich. Yet, she was willing to throw it all away for the man she loved.

Drawing on hundreds of previously undiscovered letters, England's Mistress, told with a novelist's flair, follows Emma's dramatic journey from the slums to the Royal Court of Naples, and from the brothels of St. James' to the tragedy and glory of the Napoleonic wars. Muse and mother, wife and mistress, celebrity and villain, victim and survivor: Emma Hamilton was one of the most remarkable women in British history.

©2006 Kate Williams; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Absorbing, well-crafted....Williams' biography is well paced and pitch perfect, as competent in its storytelling as it is in its authoritative analysis of 18th-century class distinctions." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Eunice
  • Harrodsburg, KY, United States
  • 07-25-08

Glad I live now...not then!

This was an extremely interesting book in many ways. The story of Emma herself is captivating, but as her tale unwinds you are given a vivid picture of life in her era. I'm so glad to live now and not then! Things were really tough if you were born into the wrong social strata. The descriptions of clothing and hair fashion were also intriguing. Overall, a well-read interesting listen.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Loving Portrait of a Woman Who Partied

This book was outstanding. I knew very little about Emma's life...but after listening I felt like a guest at one of her fetes. The only negative element (if any) could have been the biographer's gushing of her subject. It NEVER, however, got to the point of cloying. The reader was sumptuous in her deliver. Pitch perfect. This book made me want to listen to other books about Nelson and their friends and the way they lived their lives. Think Marie-Antoinette with less money and Emma got to keep her head!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Riveting.

The rags to riches and back again story of Emma Hamilton, the "rock star" of her times, is not only epic, but also illustrative the plight of poor young women of the day. Without her legendary beauty, Emma wouldn't have stood a chance of digging her way out of poverty. In fact, readers learn early on that Emma's early education and opportunity, such as it was, came as a result of her mother's liaison with one of her "betters."
Equally compelling is the look into the character of Lord Nelson,whose own meteoric rise and outsized ego were remarkable. All the characters are well drawn, the times vividly portrayed. A fabulous read.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Good Entertainment

I find the author fills in details that are probably assumed. Yet overall it's entertaining to look back in time at this famous women. Emma is an intertesting character who climbed the social ladder. She was one brave lady.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Cariola
  • Chambersburg, PA USA
  • 01-31-08

Really enjoyed this one

I didn't know much about Lady Emma Hamilton, but I found her life quite fascinating. She must have been quite a woman to have worked her way up the social ladder as she did.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I loved this biography!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Because I am a fan of fiction, I was reluctant to purchase this, but it was so interesting and written so well, I absolutely loved it.

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Missed opportunity

This could have been a fabulous book. You can't get a more colorful character than this lady. But by about halfway through I lost interest. The way the book is written it feels like you are listening to a newscaster describe this woman's life. It's almost a blow by blow history rather than an interesting story. I wanted to really get to know this woman, what did she think about being a prostitute? Did she really love her husband? But instead all we got to do was observe. What a lost opportunity.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Not a Great Book, Worse Reader

This is a adequate book if you can forget that it's meant to be actual history. It is filled with speculation about things that the author cannot possibly know, and reads more or less like a not very exciting novel. But if you're used to well-researched history, you will cringe frequently. For example, there is really NO way of knowing what Emma Hamilton may or may not have felt when she first saw London, or how she in fact felt about anything at all early in her life, which is not at all well-documented. I found myself saying, "how do you KNOW that" again and again and again.

Also, the reader should NOT be trying her hand at accents that she cannot do well (that would be all of them), which is both unnecessary and also makes you want to cringe. It's distracting at best and annoying most of the time.

4 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Documentary Biography

The description of this book gives the reader the impression that you will be listening to a novel when, in fact, you are read a documentary biography about the life of Emma Hamilton. The book is written as a collection of facts with suppositions and the supporting reasoning. I enjoyed learning about this lady but I felt like I was listening to the Discovery Channel. At times, the author was confusing in the manner in which details were related because the reference to time was left out and it was often not clear as to whom the author was talking about. Anyway, the book is not a complete waste of money but you should know it is definitely not a novel and isn't narrated like one either.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Jennifer
  • west lafayette, IN, USA
  • 11-07-08

don't listen this while driving

If not for the somewhat interesting content of the book, one might easily fall asleep while listening to it. The narrator's voice is one more suitable for bedtime stories or lullabies. Definitely not for long distance driving, which was my reason for buying it before a 1200-mile driving trip. It nows keeps me good company while knitting though.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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