"Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire" by Amanda Foreman
Title: Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire
Author: Amanda Foreman
Published: Modern Library, 1998
Where I Got It: The library
Why I Read It: Because I wanted to! Best reason ever.
OK, I admit it, the real reason I read this book was in case I ever wanted to watch the movie. Well, I read it back in December of 2009 and have yet to watch The Duchess. It may be because iTunes doesn't have rentals of it yet, or because I loathe Keira Knightley, either or. More of that rant later!
So everybody knows Princess Diana right? Of her antics, fame, and how her legacy has only gotten stronger after her death? Yeah, well meet her great-great-great-great-aunt, the Lady Georgiana Spencer. Georgiana was equally as infamous and scandalous in her day in the late 1700s as her descendant. At age 17, she married one of the richest men in England, the Duke of Devonshire. Georgiana was a fashion goddess, socialite, a dear friend of Marie Antoinette and the Prince of Wales, and a political powerhouse.
She was loved by the masses, but underneath hid suffering, problems, and addictions. She was a compulsive gambler, was unloved by her husband, and was repeatedly duped by Bess, her best friend. Bess also happened to be a mistress to the Duke; she and Georgiana both had his children, as well as other men's. Her later life is very sad as it slowly spirals downwards.
The very first line of the book is: "Biographers are notorious for falling in love with their subjects." I don't have the same problem, as I definitely did NOT fall in love with Georgiana. Her story was tragic, fun, and extremely interesting, but the majority of the people in her life just pissed me off (i.e. Bess, heck, even Georgiana herself). This books shows the good and bad of the 18/19th century noble life. The descriptions of grand houses, dresses, hairstyles and events are fabulous, yet these are marred by the arrogant, self-centered pricks who actually lived these lives.
I'm going to judge that the book is better than the movie. It's just one of those that has to be. So why haven't I watched it? Here begins my Keira Knightley rant: It's not that she's is a bad actress, I actually think she's fantastic. I think it's really her appearance; she's just so freaking skinny that her head looks humongous. She also has atrocious hair in the movie, maybe that's another reason I've been scared away.