Film reviews

The Duchess – past and present

Researching for my new novel (Lords & Lies), my husband and I recently watched the film ‘The Duchess’ – which is based on the true life story of the Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (an ancestor of Princess Diana).

In her time (1757-1806), Georgina was beautiful, glamorous, and a trendsetter in fashion and politics.  She was also a compulsive gambler, a drug addict, and an adulteress.

Not only was Georgina married off at age 17 years to ‘the only man in town who didn’t love her’, but she was also forced to live under the same roof as her husband’s mistress (cheery menage a trois – you ask?  perhaps….).  Although she was privileged and adored by both her public and her children, her personal problems got the better of her.

So long ago, her life.   Yet  still today, her story resonates in our hearts and minds – the details of which could easily be ascribed to any number of modern celebrities.

What does this tell us about human nature?

More importantly, what does it tell us about the nature of ‘progress’?

I don’t have the answers.  Do you?

BTW, if you’re interested, Amanda Foreman has written a splendid biography of Georgiana, called The Duchess (Harper Perennial, 1998).

Book reviews

Lessons to learn from Anthony Trollope

I just finished reading Anthony Trollope’s brilliant novel The Way We Live Now.

Although written in 1872, Trollope’s portrayal of the ultra-greedy businessman, Melmotte, has much to show us about the way we really do in fact live right now.  As another character comments, Melmotte is ‘a sign of degeneracy’, not the cause.

Not unlike bankers and (some) politicians today, Melmotte’s claim to fame was that he ‘manufactured’ money from issuing more and more (bad) debt.  In pursuing this career, he almost manages to crash the markets in the City of London.

The interesting thing is that rather than being the worldly and elegant gentleman he professes to be, in reality he’s a no-body from no-where trying to make the world believe he’s something that he’s not.

Perhaps a lesson to be learned is that ‘money doesn’t make the man’ and that such a lesson is as important today as it was in 1872.

So ladies and gentlemen, what should we make of this?

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