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.
"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)
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