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The Pain and the Privilege: The Women in Lloyd George's Life [Hardcover]

Ffion Hague
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Jun 2008

‘Men’s lives are a perpetual conflict. The life that I have mapped out will be so especially – as lawyer and politician. Woman’s function is to pour oil on the wounds – to heal the bruises of spirit…and to stimulate to renewed exertion.’

Lloyd George was a man who loved women and the tale of his intertwined relationships contains many mysteries and a few unsolved intrigues. He was involved in a divorce case, fought two libel cases over his private life, and had persuaded the prettiest girl in Criccieth to be his wife. Lloyd George’s life was indeed a ‘perpetual conflict’. He was a habitual womaniser and despite his early, enduring attachement to Margaret Owen, marriage did not curb his behaviour. There were many private scandals in a life devoted to public duty.

Ffion Hague illuminates his complex attitude to women. Her own interest stems from the many parallels in her own life.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 608 pages
  • Publisher: HarperPress; First Edition edition (2 Jun 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007219490
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007219490
  • Product Dimensions: 16.6 x 4.8 x 23.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 629,804 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


‘A riveting narrative examination of the dynamic between a man, his mistress, his wife and his daughter. Played out behind the doors of Downing Street, it throws light on the depth of ambition of one of the 20th century's great political machinators…a fascinating story.’ The Times

‘Well–researched and thoughtfully written…she tells the story ably and entertainingly.’ Evening Standard

‘Rather than producing an embellished list of the miserable women who knew Lloyd George, Hague has given us a biography of Lloyd George himself in which a great deal of thought has gone into the business of what it was like to be him and what it was like to have him.’ Daily Telegraph

‘An engaging portrait…an absorbing read.’ Guardian

‘Well-researched and thoughtfully written.’ Scotsman

‘Hague has much to bring to the task of recovering their stories including her knowledge of the Welsh language and culture, an accessible style, and a sympathetic appreciation of "the pain and the privilege" of being married to a prominent politician…compelling.’ Literary Review

‘This well written and intelligent book…tells an involving, multifarious and often poignant tale. It describes to the tee in the process a particular type of man - egomaniacal, brilliant, sexually unscrupulous and crazily risk-taking - frequently found in politics.’ Sam Leith, Spectator

‘Lloyd George's sexual energy was one aspect of his all-purpose dynamism…Ffion Hague's gracefully written and well organised book shows the public face of power as well as the libido burrowing its way through the petticoats.’

About the Author

Ffion Hague was born in Cardiff. A native Welsh- speaker, she studied English Literature at Oxford and then took an MPhil in Eighteenth Century Welsh poetry at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
After graduating a second time, Ffion joined the Civil Service and was posted to the Welsh Office. She held a number of policy positions before being appointed Private Secretary to the Secretary of State.
On leaving the Civil Service, she became Director of Operations at the business-facing charity, Arts & Business. In 2000, she became a headhunter and since 2003, has been a director of Hanson & Green. Ffion was a trustee of The British Council and also a judge of the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000. She is married to William Hague and lives in Yorkshire.

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History from a different perspective.. 28 Sep 2008
By Melly
This is a fat book-but don't be put off. ffion's writing style is fluid and accessible: she keeps the clarity that is so often missing in biographies that cover such a wide timespan and range of characters. The tone is never judgemental and totally even handed in its treatment of (some not always likeable) people. As it takes a rather more personal and domestic view of late 19th/ early 20th century history the book makes a refreshing change from mere histories of the time. However we are never far from world events so one encounters them from the perspective of engaged bystanders rather than from the main players. It also throws the double standards of the contemporary moral and social climate into sharp relief and acts as an interesting mirror to the current political scene. In summary- an enjoyable and informative read.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Torn Between Two Lovers 1 Jan 2010
I thought I knew a lot about Lloyd George. The good (the introduction of Old Age Pensions), the bad (splitting the Liberal Party) and the ugly (selling honours for personal gain). I was also aware he had a mistress throughout his time in Downing Street and beyond. However, most of my knowledge was based on the political and economic issues in which he was involved. Having read Ffion Hague's superb book about Lloyd George's wife and mistress I now realise how little I knew about him.

The "Welsh wizard"was born in Manchester but spent his formative years in North Wales. A native Welsh speaker (like Hague herself) he became a solicitor and entered into politics on behalf of the Liberal Party whose nonconformist roots were solid in the Principality. He married in his mid- twenties but, in his own mind, his vows excluded those parts which he regarded as inconvenient, in particular, sexual fidelity. In fact he found it difficult to accept friendship between the sexes could exist without physical sex. It is not known how many women he dallied with but in Frances Stevenson he found someone who was reliable and discreet.

At heart there was only one person in Lloyd George's life and that was Lloyd George himself. His wife, Margaret, often depicted previously as docile, understood his weaknesses and stuck firmly to the idea that marriage was for life. Ironically, so too did Lloyd George. He had seen first hand how an extra-marital affair had brought down Parnell and had no intention of ruining his career the same way. He made it clear to Stevenson that he would never divorce and, when in the aftermath of Margaret's death, she pushed for marriage he put it off as long as possible.

The two women were quite different.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pain & the Privilege 9 Nov 2010
By Casada
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a different aspect of Lloyd George's life and a very interesting one too. Knowing the area it was set in, I was prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt about his love life but I was obviously mistaken, he was worse than I thought!!
This book was well researched and presented and I have recommended it to many of my friends. Very enjoyable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 3 Sep 2010
I didn't expect to enjoy this book as much as I did. It was excellent - so well written and informative! I hope she writes another book soon - Well done!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pain and the Privilege 21 Aug 2009
By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER
A serialisation of this book on Radio 4 caught my attention. A storyline intriguing enough to succeed as a novel was made all the more interesting through being based on real events - another case of truth being stranger than fiction. How could Lloyd George maintain the active political and moral support of his wife and his mistress when they were both fully aware of the situation even if choosing to delude themselves up to a point? Ffion Hague interprets in a compelling style the complex motivations and emotions involved. The way in which these two women played complementary roles to meet Lloyd George's needs made me wonder how consciously he chose these two particular people for longterm relationships in an apparent sea of casual promiscuity.

The interplay of the key characters was set in the context of major developments such as the decline of the Liberal Party, the weakening of the power of the Anglican Establishment over Wales, the horror of the First World War and the profound social changes following from it. It was fascinating to realise or to speculate on just how much the wheel keeps turning - insider share dealing, "cash for honours", the distorting power of the press - when it chose to reveal scandals- reminded me strongly of recent events. The nature of power, and the charismatic influence which some can exert over others was also explored -there were parallels between the excessses of Lloyd George and Clinton, who tarnished noble political ideals, hard work and real steps to make people's lives better with sordid events in their private lives.

I never had any illusions about Lloyd George's morality, so did not downgrade the book out of disgust over his self-centred lechery. Although Ffion Hague may have been a little too charitable about his motives e.g.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 2 Jun 2009
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which took an interesting slant on a great man not just insofar as it looks at him through his women companions but also through the writer's own great sympathy for and native grasp of Welsh nationalism and sentiment.

She is sympathetic to, but not uncritical of, all 3 main protagonists and I found her work on Lloyd George's youth - particularly the sectarian nature of the various "chapels" fascinating. It is the outcome of an impressive piece of research yet manages to remain readable and accessible.

Question left hanging - why in the present age do we so heavily condemn private sexual "shenanigans" as in some way damning the public actions of the man (it is usually a man!)when Lloyd George is a paradigm of a man with a dubious - if the masses had known about it at the time - private life whose ability to lead & inspire cannot be in doubt. Perhaps we deny ourselves great leaders by expecting too high a standard of moral integrity in their private lives.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Strongly recommended
So easy to read for such a lengthy tome. The complicated love life & politics combine in David Lloyd George's life & make a facinating read. Read more
Published 2 months ago by David Gill
5.0 out of 5 stars A lovely read
This book is a compelling read. I knew very little about the life of Lloyd George before reading this book. I will now read more about him and visit North Wales. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Liz Townsend
4.0 out of 5 stars the influence of his two wives on Lloyd Georges life.
I have always been interested in the life of Lloyd Georg,being from Wales..It is interesting to see how much influence these women had on his life. Read more
Published 7 months ago by vilma Leighton
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
If you like gossip this is the book for you. Received in near perfect condition and good for the price.
Published 8 months ago by daisy lou
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This was a carefully researched, well-written, impartial work which incorporated fresh information about a number of its subjects, as well as an interview with Jennifer Longford,... Read more
Published on 26 July 2010 by R. Davies
4.0 out of 5 stars The Pain and the Privilege
This is a fascinating read although at times a bit repetitive. However, it appears to be very thorough in its research and portraying the characters in an objective yet... Read more
Published on 9 Jun 2010 by Hilary Christy
1.0 out of 5 stars not impressed
I found this book too dry and wordy. I did not finish it. Having said that, one man,s meat is another,s poison. Read more
Published on 21 April 2009 by Christine Claydon
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