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Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah Lennox 1740 - 1832 Paperback – 2 Mar 1995


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Product details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (2 Mar 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099477114
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099477112
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.2 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 231,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

I tried to skim-read this book. But it was far too good and I ended up spending hours and hours totally engrossed in the lives, loves and letters of the Lennox sisters-- Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah. Author Stella Tillyard has given a second life to these 18th-century aristocrats whose extended family included some of the most significant and colourful political figures of the era. She's mixed impeccable research, a sharp eye for detail and a writing style that's both precise and lively to produce a biography of a clan, which doubles as a panoramic history of the aristocracy in the 1700s.

Each sister's defining characteristics shine through their letters, portraits and Tillyard's terrific storytelling. Caroline, the eldest, deeply pessimistic, intelligent and moral but fascinated by and attracted to "wickedness" (she eloped with the naughty-but-nice Henry Fox and was hugely happy with him). Emily: beautiful, loving, dictatorial and unbelievably fecund (22 children, 10 of whom survived into adulthood). Louisa, good, gentle, always unwilling to believe ill of anyone and who, when she died, was mourned not only by family and friends, but also by the whole of the Irish town in which she lived. And Sarah. Flighty, flirtatious Sarah, with whom the young George III fell blushingly and tongue-tiedly in love. And who, after disgracing herself and her dull, uninterested husband, with the moody younger brother of Lord Gordon (of Gordon Riots fame) finally found happiness and respectability, in her late 30s, with an understanding soldier. Unmissable. Lisa Gee --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Engrossing" (Karen Robinson Sunday Times)

"A dazzling achievement: an extraordinary story told by a phenomenally gifted writer. Within its gripping narrative lies a wonderfully rich reconstruction of the world of the Hanoverian elite, its virtues and vices wittily and movingly related" (Simon Schama)

"Aristocrats is a wonderful panorama of a book" (Victoria Glendinning Literary Review)

"Their story is on one level as hard to put down as any of the fashionable French novels that were Caroline's favourite reading. On another it re-explores a century's history seen, so to speak, inside out through the eyes of four remarkable women who started young, lived long, did much, wrote more and have found a scarcely less remarkable biographer in Stella Tillyard" (Hilary Spurling Daily Telegraph)

"Tillyard's moving and often brilliant book is essential reading for anyone interested in the history of aristocracy and enormously entertaining reading for everyone else" (Linda Colley Observer)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 9 Aug 1999
Format: Paperback
This is a very well-researched account of the lives of the four eldest Lennox sisters, who between them survived for almost a century at a time of great change in both Britain and Europe generally. Stella Tillyard draws together the correspondence of the sisters, their friends and relations, to build up a picture of their lives within the context of the major events of the time. The narrative races along, with frequent reference to the many photographs and paintings which appear in the book. This assists the visualisation of the characters who appear and of the locations in which they lived. I read the book while the recent BBC adaptation was being shown and was charmed to find that the script had relied heavily not so much on the book but on the text of the letters. The characters are not perfect, or dry and dusty. They are emotional, wilful, argumentative and frequently very badly-behaved, but they are the more engaging for having their flaws examined as closely as their merits. I look forward to reading more by the same author, and more about the 18th century. Even if you've never read anything about Georgian London or Ireland, you will find much to enjoy in this book, and it may lead you to discover more about the period generally.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Oct 2002
Format: Paperback
This is one of my favourite historical books. The author succeeds in bringing each of the sisters to life, you really feel you know and can relate to them personally although they lived so long ago and had a way of life which many could not relate now. She has a talent for showing how figures from the past had the same concerns and fears as we have today, they may have had money and privilege, but still were helpless in the face of infant mortality and illness. Since reading this book, I have become interested in learning about other women in history but none compare to Tillyard's perfect blend of human interest, historical fact and writing style. I highly recommend it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Marble-Chan on 5 Feb 2003
Format: Paperback
An amazingly insightful book into the lives of women in the eighteenth century. Difficult to put down and always fun to read again. For about a year I have considered it my bedtime book, to read when I want something interesting and descriptive. The careful detailing that Stella Tillyard pays to every bit of evidence at her disposal leaves no questions unanswered and the amount of research at the back of the book just amazes me as to how committed she was to her research and how committed the Lennox sisters were to each other. :)
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 Jun 2000
Format: Paperback
I started with Aristocrats after grappling with Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire which is a lot drier than this and was delighted by it. It was my companion for my holiday, and I really enjoyed it. I have been so inspired by Tillyards writing I am currently browsing Amazon to find more about the period.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 6 Aug 1999
Format: Paperback
'Aristocrats' by Stella Tillyard reads more like a novel than a history book. It is hard to believe that four women, each so interesting, not only existed but belonged to the same family. This book left me with a lingering desire to know even more about the Lennox sisters and their family. Following the sisters for nearly a century, this book is a catalogue of social and political upheaval, which uses private letters they wrote to each other from England and Ireland. It is also intensely personal, documenting the everyday lives of Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah, as well as their influence with and connection to the most important noble and political figures of the day. The women are also remarkable for their individual lives. Three from the four make shocking marriages: Caroline elopes with Henry Fox, Emily (formerly a duchess) marries her childrens' tutor, and Sarah, a social outcast after her adultery and divorce, marries a humble army officer. Their children (Charles James Fox, Edward Fitzgerald, General Napier) become national figures in their turn. For an enlightening and thoroughly entertaining look at the eighteen century, one could do no better than this lively and heartfelt book. But be prepared to get involved: I found myself crying at the description of Louisa's funeral and hunting around museums for portraits of the four. My only complaint would be that I would have liked to have read more of the letters themselves, but this is really only a small grumble on a excellent book.
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