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The Pain and the Privilege: The Women in Lloyd George's Life Paperback – 2 Apr 2009


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The Pain and the Privilege: The Women in Lloyd George's Life + Frances, Countess Lloyd George: More Than a Mistress
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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (2 April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007219504
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007219506
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 4.3 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 371,273 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

‘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 entertaingly.’ Evening Standard

‘Fluent, balanced and broadly sympathetic…where Hague does have both a new persepective and new material is in her treatment of Margaret Lloyd George, reclaiming Margaret as a significant political figure.’ Independent

‘Impressively researched…riveting.’ Sunday Times

‘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….a wise and measured assessment.’ 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

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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Melly on 28 Sept. 2008
Format: Hardcover
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Casada on 9 Nov. 2010
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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Neutral VINE VOICE on 1 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Antenna TOP 500 REVIEWER on 21 Aug. 2009
Format: Hardcover
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DK on 3 Sept. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jane 1923 on 2 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
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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