“The amount of research and detail that the author has included in this book is simply stunning. I never knew anything about the Duchess Georgiana, but I do know a fair amount about the way English aristocrats, and English society in general, used to live. And so far I have not found a single sentence that I believed was untrue or a mistake. One of the most exhaustively researched biographies I've ever read. The book is very slowgoing at times, and this is not a novel, just like other reviewers have pointed out. I'm learning a huge amount by reading this, which is why I persevere and slog through the last half.
I find it interesting that the Duke isn't nearly as much the bad guy as he was portrayed in the movie, and I know they had to cut a lot of story out to adapt the book into a movie, but i really do think it would have been a better movie than it already was, if the complexities the Duke felt toward Bess and Georgiana were more throughly explained like they were in the book. (spoiler ahead if you haven't seen the movie) I was disappointed with how very little of the book discussed Georgiana's affair with Grey. I felt that at least the author could attempt to explain why the Duchess chose to have an affair at such a perilous time, possibly include any letters to or from ( if there were any that survived). Explain when the affair started, how long did they see each other before the duchess left for the continent? Did they only meet at her house in Bath when the Duke was gone, or were they borrowing friends houses to have trysts? And why, actually, did people in general take her side?? (when the duchess was banished and her illegitimate child was common knowledge) considering that almost always women were condemned for affairs, especially if one resulted in a child, being that blood lines were considered to be one of the most important reasons for marriage. And if all that is impossible, due to censoring, at least describe his personality, his family situation, etc. This, of course, was the most dramatic part of her story, and the part I was looking forward to. I'm only 52% through the book, so maybe it will be included later in the book, although I doubt it considering that she has already cut off the affair almost entirely. (End of spoiler)
But despite these questions of mine, I would still say it's one of the most informative and interesting biographies I've read. This book is nothing like The Other Boleyn Girl, nor was it ever intended to be. This book is also very different from the movie "the duchess", as movies based on books usually are. The movies pace was much faster, and there was a lot more passion and drama, in a way. If you're the kind of person who can't sit through a documentary on the History channel, or politics bore you to death, or you're looking for a steamy romance novel with ballgowns and jewels, something that sucks you in immediately... Well, this is not it. Maybe that makes it sound like a terrible book, but it's actually great, and I'm so glad I bought it. I really am looking forward to the end of the book, incredibly curious to find out what happens with her and Bess and the Duke, and to see what she does in her final years. I actually found myself at one point, overcome with emotion when I read a poem she had written to one of her children (which is really unusual for me) but I guess that's a testament to the author's writing skills, she described her so well, that I actually feel like I know her in a way, and find myself really hoping that she'll overcome her problems. (I also think that Keira Knightly was cast extremely well as Georgiana in the movie).”
Jessie wrote this review Friday, July 6, 2012.