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Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

by Foreman, Amanda

  • ISBN: 9780375502941
  • ISBN10: 0375502947

Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

by Foreman, Amanda

  • List Price: $29.95
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Random House Trade
  • Publish date: 01/01/2004
  • ISBN: 9780375502941
  • ISBN10: 0375502947
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Description: Born in 1757 into the highest ranks of the British aristocracy, Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire was a captivating woman, a real-life character worthy of de Laclos's Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Her story is one of sexual scandal, political intrigue, addiction, high fashion, and 18th century media frenzy.

At the age of 17, Lady Georgiana Spencer married the Duke of Devonshire, one of the most powerful and wealthy men in England. The new Duchess was thrust into the public eye, and, possessing a unique magnetism and charm, she immediately became the most-watched woman in English society. Soon the London tabloids were publishing daily reports of her engagements; rivals bribed the Duchess's attendants for her dress patterns; and Londoners imitated Georgiana's affected speech (over "nuncheon" in the garden, "George-ay-na" would drawl, "Dearest one, how do oo do?" to which her guest would respond, "As oo do, so does poor little I!") But Georgiana was not merely a spoiled aristocrat -- she presided over the most important political salon of the time, acting as negotiator, campaigner, fundraiser and manager of the Whig Party.

The Duchess was a woman who inspired adoration from men and women alike; it was said the only person in Britain not enamoured by Georgiana was the uncharismatic and adulterous Duke, who invited his mistress Lady Elizabeth Foster to live with the couple on their estates. In a bizarre twist, Georgiana and Elizabeth became the closest of friends, probably even sexual intimates, and the three lived together in an uneasy menage a trois. The "Devonshire Circle" became known for adultery, politics, and all-night gambling and drinking binges. Georgiana herself was a hopelesslyaddicted gambler and sank into a cycle of debt (to the tune of $6-1/2 million in today's money) and dishonesty. Indulging in an affair with future Prime Minister Charles Grey, she became pregnant and was banished by the furious Duke to a 3-year exile in France. She returned dishonored and disgraced, plagued by illness and facing the collapse of the Whig Party. Even at her lowest point, however, she remained a seductive and compelling woman, and before her premature death had regained her popularity and a new respectability. Georgiana's story is fascinating and eloquently told by Amanda Foreman in this wholly entertaining biography.

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