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42 Reviews
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic profile of an overlooked period
The period surrounding the passing of the Great Reform Act 1832 is often overlooked due to its seemingly dull core of electoral administration and reform. However, as Antonia Fraser expertly shows in this work, nothing could be further from the truth.

Fraser's success in this work is threefold. Firstly, she describes with great aplomb the social upheavals and...
Published 18 months ago by Huw Davies

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic in Parts.
This book was received with great acclaim and in some ways it merits it. There is certainly nothing about the 1832 Reform Act that a general reader would want to know that is omitted.The characters of the time, especially Grey and Wellington emerge quite clearly. On the other hand, as the author acknowledges, the Act was only a beginning: a small addition to the number...
Published 18 months ago by Michael S


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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too much detail, too little context, 27 Jun. 2013
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This review is from: Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 (Hardcover)
The Perilous Question is a very detailed story, thoroughly researched and referenced, but I found that there was an absence of context. I would have preferred fewer intricate anecdotes about minor players in the story and more about what was really happening in the country that created the risk of revolution, and something about the wider impact of the Reform and how it affected the mass of people on the verge of rebellion
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 13 Dec. 2014
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This review is from: Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 (Hardcover)
on time as described
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 7 Dec. 2013
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This review is from: Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 (Hardcover)
It arrived on time in good condition and was just as described. A present for my grandson, it promises to amuse and inform.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 13 Oct. 2014
By 
W. J. Kendall "Tacoma Star" (West Sussex, U.K.) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 (Hardcover)
Tremendous
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easily digestible, 27 July 2013
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Easy to read and well researched but at times the research intrudes and facts are included for their own sake rather than the reader's.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling, 17 July 2013
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This account of a crucial period in English history is highly entertaining, greatly informative and most elegantly and lucidly written. It combines an enthralling narrative with a shrewd analysis both of the main players in the drama and the significance of the events. Highly recommended.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating romp, 13 Jun. 2013
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Jon (Taunton, Somerset United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Hugely entertaining and enlightening account of the drama surrounding the 'perilous question'.
I would hope others enjoy it as much as I did.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832, 13 July 2013
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This review is from: Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 (Hardcover)
I bought this book as a gift for a friend who is an historian and particularly interested in domestic politics of this period. She read it immediately and loved it.
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Peril averted by dreary gossip, 1 July 2013
By 
E Reilly (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 (Hardcover)
Lady Fraser states in her introductory note that she does not seek to write a history, but instead to capture a 'flavour' of the times, to find out what the people were like who were involved, and to imagine what it was like to experience the Great Reform of 1832. With such a modest ambition, the exciting title is a bit misleading, and she ends up capturing only a watery impression of high peril and drama.

Before continuing, I should say that this is the first 'Fraser' I have read, but I had high expectations considering the subjects of her historical biographies. I should also state that I already had an interest in the period (UCL and KCL student), and some familiarity with many of the main characters, as well as a very basic knowledge of the stages a Bill goes through in Parliament before becoming an Act. I think all of these are essential for this 'flavour' to have any taste whatsoever, because Lady Fraser unfortunately adopts a gossipy approach to her subject, preferring the entries of ladies' diaries and endless quoted quips and anecdotes as to the appearances and styles of the main and minor characters, and their personal opinions of each other.

On the plus side, three points of interest. Lady Fraser sets up the key sources of tension outside Parliament clearly, showing that the role of the press then was already what it has become today, in leading public opinion and deriding celebrated figures with provocative headlines and images. During this period, the target was the (German) Queen, and then the King, William IV, who played such a huge role himself in the early days of the Bill only to become lost himself in the vagueries of 'English constitutional politics'. There is also a clear suggestion of the influence of events in France (1789 and 1830), with the introduction of the concept of 'the people' into Parliament, and the sense of a huge and widening gulf between them and the aristocracy, due to the 'perilous question'. Finally, the way in which the Bill passes in the House of Lords is quite incredible, albeit an anti-climax.

On the down side, Lady Fraser does not bother to investigate the many new, different and significant political Unions, despite concluding that the Birmingham Union played a decisive role in the success of the Reform of 1832. Neither does she properly consider the influence of the Philosophical radicals, either in Parliament or outside, which would have improved the book in many ways (context, coherence, and making the political complexity of the period clearer). Lady Fraser decides to tackle the subject in chronological order, tracking the Bill as it goes through Parliament. Although this seems like the obvious approach, it actually gets lost in repetition and confusion, being secondary to the gossip going on and the number of characters Lady Fraser wants to mention, not always for any apparent reason than name dropping (for example Charles Dickens and William Ewart Gladstone, who were barely present).

Perhaps what interests Lady Fraser, she might reasonably expect, would interest everyone. However, she has possibly not given this subject proper treatment. She quotes Sir Denis le Marchant, who called the early stages of the Parliamentary debate "dreary warfare", which might be a more apt title to her book than Earl Grey's anxiety over the "perilous question". At least she gives the last word to Alexis de Tocqueville - at least, apart from a few more pages before the curtains actually close.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yet again, over detailed, 30 May 2013
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We do know the history of Reform and all this about what was just the first and very limited Bill is too much. However it is such a good story it does bare retelling
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Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832
Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832 by Lady Antonia Fraser (Hardcover - 9 May 2013)
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