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Improper Pursuits: The Scandalous Life of Lady Di Beauclerk-Carola Hicks

  • Title: Improper Pursuits: The Scandalous Life of Lady Di Beauclerk
  • Author: Carola Hicks
  • Released: 2002-05-10
  • Language:
  • Pages: 400
  • ISBN: 0330488015
  • ISBN13: 978-0330488013
  • ASIN: 0330488015

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From Publishers Weekly Anyone looking for a frothy read won't find it here; though there is scandal in the life of Lady Diana Spencer Bolingbroke Beauclerk, Hicks buries it in a flood of historical detail. The first Diana Spencer (1735-1808) served as a Lady of the Bedchamber in the court of George III until she got pregnant during an adulterous affair. Even more scandalous, her oldest Bolingbroke son left his wife after embarking on an incestuous affair with her oldest Beauclerk daughter; the couple had three children and escaped to Paris. But there was a more serious, substantive side to Lady Di's life. Her second husband ran with an artistic crowd that included James Boswell, Samuel Johnson and Joshua Reynolds; she herself was a glamorous painter who did design work for Josiah Wedgwood and endeared herself to Horace Walpole, whose unrequited love for her made him her greatest champion. It's great raw material, but Hicks, who teaches art history at Cambridge University, gives equal weight to all her facts, and so her narrative falters. Readers must slog through minutiae about 18th-century painting supplies and obstetrical practices, condoms (they were made of linen and came in three different sizes) and rouge ingredients. The resulting book is likely to weary anybody but serious history buffs. 8 pages of b&w and 8 pages of color photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal Hicks is an art historian at Cambridge University whose earlier works focus on church architecture, stained glass, and medieval art motifs. For her first biography, she quite naturally turns her attention to an 18th-century artist who shares direct lineage and a name with the late Lady Diana Spencer. Like Lady Di, the former Lady Diana, born in 1735, was something of a truant. She divorced her husband, gave birth to an illegitimate child, and then married her lover. She was also an artist and was discussed in letters by her friend Horace Walpole. This book is perfectly well researched, as one would expect from such a fine historian, but it is also slightly dense and academic. Unfortunately for Hicks, the personal names in the Spencer line repeat themselves, as do those of their social milieu; this becomes infuriatingly convoluted to the uninitiated. Further, one has to wonder whether writing a biography of the earlier Lady Diana Spencer is not just a matter of "cashing in." This book will have limited popular appeal, perhaps only to devotees of British aristocracy and their more colorful rascals. Gail Benjafield, St. Catharines P.L., Ont.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. pdf
 
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