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The Scandal of the Season [Paperback]

Sophie Gee
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 7.99
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Book Description

7 Aug 2008

A Dazzling Story of Risk and Dangerous Liasions.

Beautiful, clever Arabella Fermor is seduced by charming Robert Petre, seventh baron of Ingatestone. Eager to secure herself a rich and handsome husband, Arabella cannot guess that the enigmatic robert is entwined in a treasonous plot against Queen Anne.

Watching the pair from the outskirts is a crippled man destined to become the genius of his age - the poet Alexander Pope. In Arabella and Robert's flirtations he has found the tale of temptation, coquetry and danger that might just make his fortune...


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (7 Aug 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099507293
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099507291
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 13.1 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 606,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Convincing, seductive and utterly absorbing, Sophie Gee's debut will transport its readers" (Observer)

"Secret ambition, hidden hurts, put-downs lobbed by the socially insecure; all of these appear... For anyone who enjoyed Shakespeare in Love or Dangerous Liaisons, The Scandal of the Season is a treat; rich and satisfying" (Economist)

"Gee knows her period inside out, and recreates it with a kind of loving joy...shows us a society in action rather than merely describing it" (Guardian)

"Sophie Gee has recreated the real-life scandal that inspired Pope's The Rape Of The Lock to clever, sexy effect, spinning a tale that will appeal to fans of Tracy Chevalier" (Daily Mail)

"A clever and inviting piece of critical biography masquerading as a light comedy of manners" (New York Times)

Review

`an entertaining read'

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I can't work out why this doesn't work 7 Aug 2008
By Roman Clodia TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This novel has had mixed reviews but sadly I'm in the `no' camp, but am finding it really hard to work out why it's such a failure. The author wrote her PhD thesis on C18th literature and knows her stuff but somehow there is no life, no heart, no drama, no excitement in this book at all - it's just words on paper, and has nothing to draw this reader into it at all. I expected to love it, being quite a fan of Pope, particularly the Rape of the Lock, as well as loving historical fiction but found this just dull, dusty and static.

Set during the reign of Queen Anne (1711), the background is one of the Jacobite plot to assassinate the Queen and put a Catholic Stuart on the throne; and the foreground is filled with the decadent aristocracy playing out their marriage games amongst the balls, gambling dens and opera of C18th London. At the heart is the relationship between Arabella Fermor (Pope's Belinda) and Lord Petre. Sub-plots involve Pope looking for inspiration for his next poem, and famous literary characters wander on and off-stage (Rochester, Addison, Steel, John Gay, Lady Mary Wortley-Montagu etc).

All of this sounded great and I snapped up the book eagerly, only to emerge disappointed and puzzled as to where it all goes so wrong: there is a plot, there are characters, the writing itself isn't bad, yet the whole thing fails to come together in any sense at all. Other reviewers here have clearly enjoyed it, but I have to sympathise with the 1* star reviewer who abandoned the book (even though I did manage to finish it by skimming - and no, it doesn't improve): having a knowledge of Pope's writing doesn't improve the reading experience at all. Very, very disappointing.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars How Not to Turn a Thesis into a Novel 7 Sep 2008
Format:Paperback
I bought this book on the strength of good reviews in the press, and like Roman Clodia was left disappointed. I too nearly put it down unfinished, which I have only very rarely done. To answer Clodia's point about why the book doesn't work, when Sophie Gee has a PhD in 18C literature and a clear passion for her subject - I think that's why. To me this book is an example of how not to turn an academic thesis and course of lectures into a novel.

Unfortunately, Ms Gee is intent on proving that this 'is not Austen' and to that end inserts vignettes of 18C life from her thesis or her wider reading that add nothing to character or plot development ie the hogman driving his herd of pigs through the theatre going crowd, the overheard snatches of servants' conversation. They jar and jolt the reader away from the story - perhaps this was her intent? The 18C is contemporary yet not?

I was convinced neither by the love story nor the Jacobite plotting - there was no sense of frisson in the former nor real threat in the latter - only four years after the novel is set the Old Pretender did mount an invasion. I feel this is because the author was aware that she was dealing with historical personalities and felt unable to write speech and behaviours for them which the trained historian in her could not justify through surviving texts. The plot only really got going in the last 50 or so pages, out of a 300 page novel - the pacing could have been better, and in the hands of a more experienced author it could have merited a longer treatment.

Sadly, the author could not resist the temptation to sprinkle the text with 'in jokes' about the personalities and literature of the time: Pope's meeting with Mary Wortley Montague [Pierrepont in the novel] is one of many.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gentle read 26 Dec 2007
Format:Hardcover
A charming novel, though it does very much read as a debut novel. Set in the eighteenth century Queen Anne is on the throne and the usurped Catholic Kings sit waiting in France. Meanwhile London is the centre of the Arts with Swift writing his brilliant satires and a soon to be well known poet has embarked at his friends house to find the subject matter for his next poem, the poem that he hopes will bring him fame and fortune. Alexander Pope, who suffering from a terrible deformity (Potts Tuberculosis affects the spine and causes a hunchback, the same disease that most likely affected the fictional Quasimodo) chooses, after some persuasion, the affair between Arabella and Lord Petre as the subject of the poem and it is this affair that makes up the main thrust of the book.

Though the affair doesn't ultimately end in marriage the reasons for its failure are poor, the sinister Catholic plot is somewhat of an anti-climax and the Catholic-Anglican tensions of the time are, though touched upon several times, still relatively background issues where as during the period it would have been a large issue (even today the Prime Minister cannot be Catholic). The lovers fall in love far too quickly, Arabella spending the first 70 pages or so resolutely defending her chastity seems to fall into bed far too readily when the opportunity arises. For all its fault the book is still very entertaining and helps immensely in understanding the otherwise almost incomprehensible Rape of Lock.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Sans Scandal 2 Jan 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had great hopes for this book, as I love historical fiction and the 18th century in particular. I found the plot to be too shallow and too slow to read without skimming for pages until something finally happened. The characters are all self-centred and very flat, and some of their lines are just shockingly bad ("I wish to spend inside of thee.") The book has elements of interest, but I feel it didn't all come together to make a great read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, with a few Niggles
As a PhD candidate myself, writing my thesis on Pope and Swift, I was thrilled when a colleague put this book in my hands. Read more
Published 21 months ago by KC
1.0 out of 5 stars 1 star.
I tried but couldn't read this book. This review is a reminder to me to ignore this book when it comes up in my Amazon recommendations. Read more
Published on 1 Jan 2012 by StarPlayer
1.0 out of 5 stars Bore of the Year
I have to say this book was one of the most boring and badly written novels I've ever read - astonishingly dull. Read more
Published on 4 Dec 2008 by Ms. A. Brooke
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written, immensely enjoyable.
This is a fabulous read; I was totally absorbed by the end of the first page and enjoyed Gee's every perfectly crafted word. Read more
Published on 4 Sep 2008 by Elizabeth Woodham
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read
A fabulous read that although takes a few pages to get going is worthwhile in the end. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Arabella Fermor and Robert Petre develop through... Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2008 by SJSmith
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read
A fabulous read that although takes a few pages to get going is worthwhile in the end. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Arabella Fermor and Robert Petre develop through... Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2008 by SJSmith
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read
A fabulous read that although takes a few pages to get going is worthwhile in the end. I enjoyed watching the relationship between Arabella Fermor and Robert Petre develop through... Read more
Published on 29 Aug 2008 by SJSmith
4.0 out of 5 stars A rollicking page turner
I loved this book so want to counter its detractors below! As a historian I enjoyed the setting and background, though was relieved that this wasn't - nor tried to be - a... Read more
Published on 7 May 2008 by Mrs. C. Cadogan
4.0 out of 5 stars Terrifically original historical novel.
I'm not in the habit of writing reviews here, but I think something to counter the one below is required - I fail to see how reading the first 89 pages of a 290-page book qualifies... Read more
Published on 16 Dec 2007 by Organ Morgan
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