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on 28 September 2016
Fascinating, thank you.
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on 30 October 2013
This book reads as if written by two different people. Half is truly fascinating with a vivid picture of high society in Georgian London. Sadly the other half is full of truly awful academic writing which is unreadable. A good editor would have helped.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 2 June 2014
“everything that is fashionable, polite and elegant”

Having long been an avid reader of books by Georgette Heyer, Jane Austen etc., I am familiar with the ways of the 1700s and early 1800s where those of the ‘ton’ would come to London during October and stay till June, when, despairing of the hot summer months in town, they would disappear back to their regional seats to wait until the next ‘season’. During these London months, there was a mad round of social engagements, underlying which were familial, social and political contexts – favourable marriages were sought, young girls were brought out on their coming of age, connections were re-formed and made anew; salons, concerts, balls, picnics and theatre engagements filled the months, but there was deadly seriousness beneath any notion of frivolity. For these people were the titled and the entitled, those who were the members of the highest form of ‘polite society’.

To be ‘beau monde’ one had to meet the standards which involved pedigree, connections, manners, language, appearance, as well as fashion sense and a sense of the ‘correct’ society ways and manners. One thinks of Beau Brummell, who took five hours a day to dress, and recommended polishing one’s boots with champagne. While he was a ‘dandy’, there were plenty of other notable characters who made their mark over these decades of London fashionable society. The ‘beaus’, the ‘gallants’, those who over-dressed or under-dressed; those who scandalised polite society with their avant garde behaviour, fortunes made and lost, brides won and tossed aside, elopements, duels at dawn – it was all there.

To find a book which analyses and discusses the beau monde was a real boon; the author has taken as a basis for the book her PhD thesis and broadened it into this wonderful book. There are five chapters in the book, really essays on various aspects of the beau monde:
Chapter 1 analyses the relationship of the beau monde to fashion and material expressions of their identity.
Chapter 2 looks at social display and the relationship to urban space.
Chapters 3 and 4 dissect further the urban environment into the relationship between fashionable society, the royal court and parliament – the beau monde’s metropolitan priorities.
Chapter 5 then studies the women of the beau monde, and how ‘beauty’ was defined.
Chapter 6 looks at the fickleness of the world of the beau monde.
A conclusion then sums up the aspects of the book.

The book is completed by an appendix on “Uses and Meanings of ‘beau monde’: a supplementary essay”, and 40-odd pages of notes from the main body of the book, a bibliography of sources used (many of which were private collections of family papers) and published available material (many of which I would like to track down and read), and an index. There are also lots of wonderful illustrations – sketches of houses, caricatures etc.

Be aware that this is a scholarly book; its basis was a doctoral thesis and the writing is based on primary sources. As such, it is not a frivolous romp through Georgette Heyer’s or Jane Austen’s worlds – it is a serious study of the cultural phenomenon that was the beau monde. However, that does not preclude it from being intensely interesting, especially to anyone who has read novels of the time, or is interested in how the cultural and social part of polite eighteenth century life blended with the political.
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on 2 October 2013
This is a rigorous investigation into the eighteenth-century beau monde, the London-based leaders of fashion, which uncovers the way in which politics, power and cultural authority were re-configured under the banner of fashion and taste.

As Grieg demonstrates, the beau monde weren't generally constituted from the rising middle classes, but from the already established elite: the titled, the noble and the aristocratic. The big names - Cavendish, Harley, Montagu, for example - don't change from the key political families of the seventeenth-century and the Restoration, sometimes continue from even earlier, and offer evidence for the way in which power didn't so much shift or transfer as become invested in partially different qualities and manifestations.

Grieg takes issue not just with the traditional emphasis on how fashion and the fashionable enabled social mobility, but also with the idea that the beau monde allowed an expansion of female authority: taking a nuanced view of the phenomenon of great London society hostesses, she gives a more varied account than the conventional picture.

So this is excellent on the way in which the shift of political power to Parliament and, hence, London underlies the creation of `the Season', and how fashionable urban spaces - the opera, the theatre, parks and pleasure gardens - operate as spaces in which the elite could perform their cultural and political authority for a commoner audience.

This is a scholarly study with all the requisite accoutrements but is also accessible for general readers. Anyone interested in how the forces of power, politics and authority shape and manifest themselves in social and cultural phenomena, in this case the creation of a world of fashion, should find this a stimulating read - recommended.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 14 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Hannah Greig's 'The Beau Monde' is a well-researched, and exceptionally lucid overview of one of the most intriguing aspects of Georgian Society. I have read Ian Kelly's exceptional biography of Beau Brummell Beau Brummell which details the life and times of one of Georgian England's great style-setters and scene-makers, but 'The Beau Monde' adds yet more colour, light and shade into the times, and other characters and commentators of the era. I highly recommend the book.
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on 16 January 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a very handsome book, as elegant and urbane as the genteel about town that it describes so elegantly. Hannah Greig examines the defining figure of the late 18th century: the man and woman of fashion, firmly situated in their urban context. A sequence of chapters also focus upon Restoration and 18th-century cultural staples, such as the gauche but innocent countryside versus the cunning colourful city. This is a highly accomplished examination of how the aristocracy in Britain reoriented their sense of self in order to project power and authority in a variety of new configurations. There is also a fascinating insight into the mechanics and politics of 18th-century ideas and agendas centred on fashion. Thus far the intellectual! This is also a handsomely produced book with a bewitching cover depicting the most luminescent coat waistcoat and britches imaginable. As might be expected, there are frequent illustrations, but I can't help but feel a slightly shallow slightly heartfelt pang that they were all in black and white... Saying that, the production values of this fine book a very high with a very pleasing quality of binding and paper. The author freely acknowledges that this is a product of her Ph.D. thesis, and the casual reader ought to be warned that while accessible, the book does lean towards the academic.
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VINE VOICEon 20 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Next year sees the tercentenary anniversary of the coming of the Georgian age, for it was in 1714 that the Hanoverian George came to the British throne, so we should expect see a flurry of related publications. The Eighteenth Century provides as a fascinating mine of material for the historian, particularly those with an interest in the emerging middle classes.

One such historian, Hannah Greig, offers a colourful view of this middle class phenomenon, a group of people, increasing in both wealth and number, who were not from the aristocracy but had time enough on their hands for the serious pursuit of leisure. And what a dangerous, almost cut-throat pursuit it became.

The obsession with manners, taste, fashion and reputation is laid bare in this engaging work. The examples the author gives us of this infatuation with the royal court, for example, for the 'beau monde' is both funny and tragic. However, we are reminded that this enthusiasm for 'getting things right' at face value could result in the ultimate goal - power.

This is a seriously good book - with content and originality to satisfy the serious student of the period whilst being interesting and well written enough for the general reader. Well recommended.
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VINE VOICEon 9 November 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Greig's book takes a look at the Beau Monde - the fashionable elite - ranging from the 'Glorious Revolution' up to the early part of the 19th century. The Beau Monde and The Season were instigated by the more important role of parliament following the deposition of James II by his daughter and her husband - William III & Mary II. The peerage would spend a good deal of their time in London attending parliament, and so so social 'Season' was born. It was interesting to see the extent to which politics permeated the fashionable society and the importance of 'gossip' and 'chit chat' which letters from wives to husbands can be full of. The book covers jewellery and dress, exile from the Beau Monde and fraudulent claims to membership, court attendance and much more. Particularly with the clothing and jewellery, I think this would really have been enhanced with coloured plates, but sadly all the illustrations are black and white.

In her introduction, Greig states that this book has grown out of her doctoral thesis on the subject. It is a quite a scholarly read, but not completely inaccessible to the general reader.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 5 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Eighteenth Century and the Regency are very popular with readers - from those who read Fielding, Burney and Jane Austen to those who love the romances of Georgette Heyer, Jane Aiken Hodge and co. Because the language they write in is easily accessible we think we understand their world, but do we? What is the Ton? What do clocks have to do with stockings? And why would you be thrown out of Almacks (who or what was Almacks?) if you wore breeches?

The answer to these and many other questions are in this book. It is the social history of the late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth Centuries that was thought too trivial to be taught in school, but is, in fact, the most interesting. Unlike many history books, it is not long winded or difficult read. It is an excellent book that will enrich your understanding of the period.
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VINE VOICEon 19 December 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
What a great slice of history. The Beau Monde proves there's, truly, nothing new under the sun - because conspicuous consumers with their desire for a heightened social profile have been around since the days of 18th century London.

For anyone who's fascinated by the otherwise vapid rule of celebrity culture and its place in the grand scheme of our daily lives, getting to know The Beau Monde is enlightening: they being the titular clique (or interweaving cliques, plural) of Hannah Greig's study. A set that invaded London once a year, around the time of parliament's reopening after summer recess, the Beau Monde were a highly visible (I guess today we'd call them playboy types)on the streets of London. They were the kind of people who craved 'the new': the latest hip postcode, clothing, and all-round fashionable association; and their courtships made papers, and presaged the modern society obsessions of The Evening Standard, Vanity Fair, etc.

Well researched, never less than insightful and clearly well informed, Greig, however, is an academic writer - the prose is slow and, at times, laborious, and every key point is stressed and re-stressed and stressed again, so there can be no doubting her theoretical intentions.

This is something to consider - because The Beau Monde has great mainstream potential, but I can't see many people (beyond committed academics and the serious of intent) sticking with the book much beyond the first ten pages. Personally, I found the subject (and many of the author's slants) fascinating, but overall I also found the book lacked life; I generally got Greig's points the first time she made them, so found myself losing interest amongst the hardy repetition.
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