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Customer Review

on 18 February 1999
An Elegant Madness: High Society in Regency England by Venetia Murray $29.95, Viking Press
Ventia Murray has provided an interesting and well-documented look into the turbulant transition period between the French Revolution (1791) and the start of the Reform Period (1830). This time has been the fertile ground for many fiction writers, from Georgette Heyer to Jill Barnett, and every month more books come out using it as a backdrop. "An Elegant Madness" along with "The Regency Companion"(Sharon Laudermilk and Teresa L. Hamlin) provides the historical backdrop. Murray has done extensive research, and while to long-time readers of Regency novels, the material will seem familiar, she has placed the period within the context of political and economic history as well as the society. One particularly helpful element of "An Elegant Madness" is that for the first time, a reader will have a sense of how expensive the Regency was in today's modern-day terms. Murray uses a rate of exchange of 50 to 1. For example, "..an item in 1812 was 200 (pounds) it would 10,000 (pounds) today..." Best of all, she has included an extensive bibliography for those who want to go further into the time period, and an index so you can track down that elusive fact in the future. I'd recommend this book to readers who have a grounding in the time period (so you recognize the names), but are interested in the history rather than the fiction.
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