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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 13 January 2013
History makes it a bit confusing anyway, because so many of the fathers and sons and female members of the family had the same names. Obviously that is not the fault of the author, but she seems to compound the confusion by jumping backwards and forwards and not always dealing with events chronologically. When you have read about someone's demise, they crop up again a couple of chapters later. I also find the writing style rather dry and boring.
Sorry, not a page-turner for me as I find the book very easy to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This book tells the life of Ehrengard Melusine von der Schulenburg, a woman who lived with, loved, and was loved by George, Elector of Hanover and first Hanoverian King of England. All that I have ever read that has mentioned Melusine (as she was known) in any kind of detail implies that she was loathed by the English (who indeed nicknamed her ‘the Maypole’). Anything else about this woman seems to have remained in the shadows. The author has attempted to bring Melusine herself into the light and explain her in the context of her own times.

She was born in Emden, just two miles from the North Sea, on Christmas Day in 1667, the daughter ofCount Gustav Adolph and his first wife, Petronilla Ottilia. Her family were minor aristocrats whose ennoblement dated from the thirteenth century. Melusine’s father entered the service of the Elector of Brandenburg, where he was successful in forging a career. His daughter Melusine was therefore a good candidate when Sophia, the wife of the Elector of Hanover, was looking for women to serve her daughter-in-law Sophia Dorothea, wife of George, the eldest son of Elector Ernst August. Not that Hanover was an Electorate until 1692, so it was paramount to those ruling there that that exalted status be maintained, and if possible, bettered. Sophia’s potential to succeed Queen Anne in England on her childless death meant that she had lineage; and the Hanoverian dynasty was determined to succeed politically as well.

The author writes well of Melusine; almost immediately upon her arrival at the court of Hanover in 1690 she appears to have become involved in a relationship with George. There is little to suggest how they might actually have felt about each other; they carefully did not write private or intimate matters down, to ensure that such things should not fall into the wrong hands. This is a pity, as there is little to explain how their relationship actually developed. It seems to have been a fait accompli very quickly, and lasted until George’s death, King of Great Britain, in 1727. Melusine lived until 1743. Melusine and George had three daughters together, and the relationship was so entrenched (although never publicly acknowledged) that Melusine went with the Court to England on the Hanoverian succession in 1714. There, she was quickly noticed as a powerful influence, and built strong and profitable relationships with those in political and cultural power. She was clearly a remarkable woman; loyal and steadfast, discreet, affectionate and learned enough to be sought out by some of the most powerful men of the age, including Walpole. While she was never really appreciated by the English population at large, who ridiculed her appearance and lampooned her relationship with their often less-than-beloved King, she appears to have been a woman who inspired trust and affection, and loyal support from those who worked with her. She was staunchly family-oriented and stood by her daughters, as well as her siblings.

This is a wonderful read; the author has succeeded admirably in placing Melusine, a shadowy figure, in her times, and affording us a viewing of her life as part of an important era in both German and British aspects of European history. Well worth reading for anyone seeking to understand more of George of Hanover, and his Melusine.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2012
Interesting and well-written book about the life of George I of Great Britain / Georg Ludwig of Hannover and his mistress Melusine von der Schulenberg. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the subject matter of late 17th/early 18th history, especially since it is a much more compact read than Ragnhild Hatton's more comprehensive work about George I. Just the right mix of gossip and serious history.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 27 May 2012
Royal mistresses are part of royal life through the centuries. As personal happiness was often not found with the official, but of equal standing wife the male royals has an alternative - a mistress. Many king has them and their offsprings were recognised and elevated to the peerage and founding noble houses existing till today. The royal mistress was much more than a mere sexual partner, often - even if not quite - replacing the Queen. They had position, richess, influence and often remember in history.

Well Melusine von der Schulenburg belonged to this category. Of a minor baronial house she became in a short period of time George I mistress and remained his partner for the rest of his life. She was a "double Duchess (of Munster and of Kendal, a princess of the Empire and mother of his daughters. So why do we not know her well? Why is she not one of those well known royal mistresses like those of Charles II?

Well, I suppose first of all she was only duchess for life, the titles were not transmitted to her offsprings, her daughters by the King were not recogniszed and these girls did not founded great noble houses whose members played an important part in history. On top: George's scandalous marriage (a lover of his wife murdered, the divorce and imprisonment of the ex-wife). The author however seems to belive that in the end George even married Melusine, but there is no prove and rather believe that they did not marry. Melusine was not a Madame de Maintenant, the morganatic and "open-secret" second wife of Luois XIV of France.

The author has done a great job rescuing Melusine and putting her back into the rightful place as George's partner. The book is written with great style and flow. It is never boring and gives a great inside into her life. I enjoyed reading it.

However, I have a few misgivings: the first part of the book dealing with Melusine's backgroudn is fairly week. She does not even give the maiden name of her mother. There are a few, even if minor errors and the photos could have been more extensive.

All in all, a book I can recommended. It makes a wonderful addition to my ever expanding collection of books on the British royal famliy.
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on 8 May 2014
For a biography this has remarkably little about the subject; there's far too much padding about other people in the story and lengthy digressions in eighteenth century London and royal palaces. Presumably a word limit had to be hit, given the relatively scanty information about the countess. There's a few contradictions, eg Britain had a population of 6 million and 8 million, George arrived in England in August and September 1714.The author expects the reader to know who Gustavus Adolphus is and who Harley is without explaining (yet goes on to state who Horace Walpole is). There's factual inaccuracy; rather more than 28 men were hanged for treason in 1715-6 and Wyndham was not in Northumberland with Forster in 1716. The scanty military details of the '15 are confused; there were two main Jacobite armies; one in Scotland and an Anglo-Scots one in the north of England. Riots in 1715-6 were not confined to London, the Midlands and the South. Bolingbroke left England before the '15 not afterwards. The author hasn't read Szechi's The Great Jacobite Rising or Margaret Sankey on that rising's consequences - the latter shows that the king's handling of it was far from barbaric (qv the Bloody Assizes of 1685). George, Elector of Hanover, was hardly a 'brilliant' general (he was hardly in Marlborough's league) and he was not alone in contemporary European rulers to be energetic; eg Frederick William the 'Great Elector', Louis XIV, Peter the Great et al.

Some good proof reading by an eighteenth century specialist - or wider reading by the author - would have made this a better book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2013
My previous encounter with Melusine occurred when reading Jean Plaidy novels over twenty years ago. I vaguely recalled that she was referred to as 'The Maypole' by some of her critics.

I haven't quite finished this book but it's been fascinating. I've got a much better understanding of who was who and the facts behind various pieces of ill-remembered historical foibles.

I'll happily read more books by this author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 25 February 2013
An interesting historical book that was fairly easy to read and gave a good description of all the main characters. This informed me of much more detail than I have been able to find before. The book also covers the South Sea Company and the effects that had on the country, which in turn has encouraged me to read up about that in fuller detail. Well written and included some paintings from the era.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2013
A good ladies book that keeps you intrested and how this facts are turned up you must give full credit to Claudia Gol
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on 6 January 2013
Not having much knowledge of the seventeenth/eighteenth centuries I approached this book with enthusiasm and was not disappointed. Whilst there are few personal details about Melusine, her role at the centre of the Hanoverian monarchy was pivotal. Yes, she was acquisitive and grasping but she also had an insecure position as the King's official mistress but with no legal rights. What comes across most is her devotion to George and her skills at diplomacy within the maelstrom a a complex family.

Gold copes well with the fact that just about every man is called Georg or Ernst and that every woman is Sophia or Sophie and that they all married their cousins! The levels of divorce, morganatic marriage and official mistresses would keep current gossip magazines in business many times over and way that the royals and nobles were lampooned with impunity three hundred years ago makes an interesting contrast to the deferential royal press coverage of today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2014
This was a great read. Just couldn't put it down. Only recently started reading historical type novels and am enjoying them all. Most are written around real historical facts. Good way to learn about our own history.
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