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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History made palatable
I would probably not have chosen this title myself as something I would enjoy, but I was pleasantly surprised. Recently passed on to me by my daughter when she was clearing her bookshelves, this is history made palatable. Originally published in 1998 as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, it has now been republished because of the recent film. Prior to reading this I only...
Published on 24 Aug 2009 by LindyLouMac

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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Amanda Foreman, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire
Amanda Foreman - Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire

This book reflects the life of Georgiana, the duchess of Devonshire. Lady Georgiana Spencer married the Duke of Devonshire in a very young age, and by that she became the duchess of Devonshire. The story takes place in the aristocratic Britain during the 18th century. Georgiana was one of the first women in the...
Published on 10 Dec 2010 by Ellinor Andersson


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars History made palatable, 24 Aug 2009
This review is from: The Duchess (Paperback)
I would probably not have chosen this title myself as something I would enjoy, but I was pleasantly surprised. Recently passed on to me by my daughter when she was clearing her bookshelves, this is history made palatable. Originally published in 1998 as Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, it has now been republished because of the recent film. Prior to reading this I only knew the very basic facts about her, mainly that she was like her descendant Diana, Princess of Wales publicly loved and personally very troubled.

A fascinating account and although normally I would not want to do so after reading the book, I would actually now like to see the film `The Duchess' and will be looking out to either hire the DVD or wait for it to appear on television.
Through the study of letters Amanda Foreman has managed to create for her readers a vivid portrayal of the life Georgiana lived as a young wife with a much older husband, whose mistress she was expected to accept. What a strange life they all seemed to live surrounded by scandals both at home and in politics. Georgiana herself succumbed to addiction and incurred huge gambling debts, from a very young age. She was also ill-fated to never be happy in love but she never lost sight of the fact that her children were the single most important factor in her life, she adored them. I found there were a number of comparisons to be made with the life of her descendant who was born just over two hundred years after her!

From what I have heard and read about the film I think having read this first will give me a much greater insight and understanding to the broader historical background.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An exhaustively researched yet highly accessible book, 9 Jan 2005
I found this absolutely compelling; I simply couldn't put it down. I found the politcal angle paticularly absorbing; the extra juice was just an added bonus! I also loved how Foreman points the reader to the ironies which pepper Georgina's life.It's really got me hooked on 18thc social and political history. I'm lucky enough to have a history degree, but this book is so accessible you don't need one; Foreman just guides through giving you all extra info without sounding patronising. This has to be the best researched biography I've read... if only my academic reading was as fun.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Engaging, 7 May 2008
I have given this review 5 stars because I think the book is well researched and an engaging read. It easily moves through the early life of the duchess (who originates in the Spencer family) and her movement through 'the ton'. The author clearly highlights the role of a women in the regency type period - feminism was unheard of and yet here we have a woman influencing politics and refusing to be constrained by her gender. The only negative comment I can make (and this is not a reflection on the book at all) is that I am not sure that I would like Georgiana very much and whilst I have sympathy for her loveless marriage, I find it hard to find empathy for a woman who lived in to such excess when many women of the era would have been grateful for a fragment of the fortune she had.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that doesn't talk down to its readers, 28 Jan 2000
By A Customer
I often feel that books aimed at the general reader, ie, someone like me who did not go to university, assume that we are all thickwits who can't tell the difference between good and bad writing. The one thing I loved about Georgiana is that the book has all the quality of academic history while at the same time being very entertaining. Although at times I had to concentrate really hard on a lot of unfamiliar information, I also felt I was getting the real thing. I loved this book and I am now looking for others just like it. I never had a chance to learn about history when I was younger but it seems to me that it's possible to make up for it when authors such as Amanda Foreman write books that are for everybody. Having read this book, I know that I can at least talk about women in the eighteenth century and not sound completely ignorant.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars what a pleasure!, 1 Mar 1999
By A Customer
This book has held me mesmerized for many days. It is not just an account of the life of the extraordinary Duchess of Devonshire but also a wonderful commentary about the time in which she lived - English politics, insights into the French Revolution from the view of Marie Antoinette (Georgiana's friend) etc. Obviously passionate about her subject Ms Foreman very seldom lets this overtake her objectivity. It it wonderfully lucid yet at the same time it is scholarly. It is on a par with, if not better than, Stella Tillyard's "Aristocrats". (And of course Charles Fox 'provides the link between the two books.)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read, but a bit over political, 3 May 2007
I found this book absorbing from the minute I picked it up. Amanda Foreman managed to mix the political elaments with the more social side of her life, to keep it interesting and to keep our attention. Even though I had been warned that it was heavily political, I still found it managable. However, as the book came towards the end, I felt that maybe Amanda Foreman was being pressed by her publishers to get it finished or maybe she was restricted to a limited word count. It seemed to become very rushed, brushing over elements in her life that I felt should have been covered, such as 'Little G's' wedding, both daughters' period of being debutante's and her sister Harriet's affairs, which saw her baring more illegitimate children, instead of only focusing on her political attributes. Maybe it was simply due to the fact that there are little surviving sources, but the fact that the last chapters are only appromimatly 10 pages long stays alot! Overall, It's a good read and I do recommend it, but be prepared to read alot about 18th Century politics.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a well-crafted, sympathetic and vivid portrayal, 21 Dec 2001
By A Customer
Clearly well-researched, this biography of one of the eighteenth century's most enigmatic figures conveys vividly the tumultous world of eighteenth century politics alongside that of Georgiana's private life. A pioneer in women's involvement in politics, her role as a campaigner and society hostess placed her in the centre of the Whig party throughout its years of opposition; prominent men instinctively sought her advice. As well as highlighting G's pivotal political role, Foreman succeeds in capturing the moral ambiguity of the age in the private dilemmas her heroine faces: a hopeless addiction to gaming, her husband's mistress being her best friend, forcing to choose between her lover and her children etc. Although from an age difficult to empathise with, Foreman never the less makes G and her world instantly accessible. An Interesting and insightful read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Detailed Biography, 6 Aug 2009
By 
MrsOsborne2013 "Legally_Lillywhite" (Nottingham, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Duchess (Paperback)
Even though this edition is marketed as a film tie-in, with a rather nice picture of Keira Knightly on the front as the Dughess of Devonshire, this is not a novel and those that buy thinking it will be a screenplay may be disappointed.

Having said that, as a biography it is an excellent and detailed account of the Duchess' life. As a frequent visitor to Chatsworth House I could envisage the House and some of the people described from portraits at the House. I did, however, find it a little dry and must admit to skipping a few pages when the writer went into detailed descriptions of the politics and the Whigs. I am, I confess, one of those people that prefer a riproaring read to factual novels (after reading legal documents all day) and this I did find a little dry in places.
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44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So much more than a film tie in..., 10 Sep 2008
By 
S. Butland - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Duchess (Paperback)
The film "The Duchess", while enjoyable enough, shouldn't be seen as simply the content of this book on screen. The book is a mere cupcake compared to the rich dark fruit cake of Foreman's biography!

Georgiana was married to the much older Duke of Devonshire at the age of 17, and during the rest of her life became a well known wit, fashion icon, political mover and shaker, and gambling and opium addict. Oh, and she also lived in a menage with her husband's mistress. Foreman charts the rise and fall of Georgiana's life, giving insight not only into the woman herself but the political and social word in which she lived.

Foreman's style is clear and illuminating, and the combination of clear-eyed historical detail and compassionate approach to her subject make this an unforgettable read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Awesome, 26 Jun 2009
By 
W. Henderson (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Duchess (Paperback)
This is a non-fiction biographical account of the Duchess of Devonshire's life in the late 18th century.
I found it fascinating and very readable. The detail about the lives of the characters is amazing, at times funny and at other times sad. The lives they led were extraordinary, full of affairs, illegimate childen, political intrigue, the "ton", social maneuvering, the french revolution, the madness of King George III, and the crazy antics of his son. Who would believe its all true?
Well worth a read, even if you've already seen the film - especially if you have already seen the film - the book has so much more...
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The Duchess by Amanda Foreman (Paperback - 4 Aug 2008)
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