I'll confess I would never have looked at this book if it hadn't been for the fact that I decided to read the 10 nominations for Richard and Judy's Best Read 2005.This book has been the biggest pleasant surprise of the lot,because, to be honest, I was not really looking forward to it. How wrong could I be ? This is a dazzling story of a fascinating woman. I am afraid to say the other biography in the Richard and Judy list,"Feel" by Chris Heath comes off a very poor second when compared to this volume. Sadly of course there's no doubt which book will sell more.I wish all Robbie Williams fans would read this book and find out that maybe their hero's exploits are not so special when compared to what the heroine of this biography got up to. Mary Robinson, whose nickname was Perdita, was married at 15 and her marriage was something of a disaster and included spending some time in prison with her husband. She then made herself into one of London's most celebrated actresses and was a friend of the outstanding theatrical figures of the day.She became a leading figure in the glamorous high society of the city, reputedly being the most beautiful woman in Britain.She voluntarily gave up her theatrical career to become the mistress of the Prince of Wales, thus heightening her celebrity even further. Reading about this time of her life it appears that she was just as famous or infamous as any contemporary celebrity.Maybe more so.There are many obvious similarities. In the second half of the book the plot changes almost completely as Mary, after being ditched by her royal lover, re-invents herself as a writer. She is so successful in this enterprise that she becomes one of the leading lady literary figures of the era. She is primarily a poetess, but also writes plays, novels and political tracts and she becomes friendly with both leading political and cultural figures. It is an absolutely fascinating tale, made more moving perhaps by the fact that she was not lucky in love, suffered a debilitating illness for many years and finally died young at the age of 43. All this is retold in an easy and entertaining way by Paula Byrne and I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone.Thank you Richard and Judy !
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