Your cheeky guide to the dynasty

And You Thought the TUDORS were Dysfunctional

Cover of "Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshir...

Cover of Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire

The Tudors are the Waltons next to the Cavendishes/Spencers, I have learned. If you are following me on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve heard my occasional groanings/rantings as I soldiered through Georgiana: Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman. I finally finished it last night so see ya, spoiled 18th century brats!

Don’t get me wrong: Dr. Foreman has produced a bang-up piece of writing and research. It’s a fine book. But I hated these people more and more with each passing chapter.

So Henry VIII married six times, so he had two of his wives executed, so he ripped the common thread of religion out from under the feet of the entire country just so he could pass on his XY chromosome. So Elizabeth I practically wiped out the Irish and had her own cousin beheaded. So Mary I had so many Protestant bonfires there’s a drink named after her with the word “bloody” in it. So the long-awaited heir to Henry VIII was, well, kind of a bore.

The Tudors were one big happy family compared to the gambling, drunkard, speech-affecting, spouse-sharing opium addicts of the Devonshire house circle. I agree that Georgiana seemed remarkable in her magnetism, devotion to friends and family, and rabid interest in politics and science.

But was she as dumb as a box of rocks to insist that her husband’s girlfriend stay in their house, let alone accompany them on all their travels?? Yes, Elizabeth Foster, that manipulative social climbing shrew. Back in the good ol’ 16th century, having a hold on a person like that could only mean one thing: witchcraft! In our Tudor era, pathetic and conniving Bess would have been riding a dunking stool instead of… oh nevermind.

I vacillated between wanting to strangle Bess with her own hat ribbons and pitying her sorry self. And when Foreman mentioned that Georgiana chose to nurse Bellatrix Bess through a high fever instead of celebrate her own daughter (Little G)’s birthday, there was no turning back for me.

Now I’m back with our Tudors for a while! I have started the next book in my queue, 1536: The Year That Changed Henry VIII by Suzannah Lipscomb (who is on Twitter as @sixteenthCgirl if you are there are well; she is just lovely and I highly recommend giving her a follow).

However, after my time in 1536 I plan to resume reading Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser (which I’d started last fall). As the French queen and Georgiana were very close friends, I fear I haven’t seen the last of the Duchess of Devonshire. Mon dieu!



  Expat Mum wrote @

To be fair to old Henry VIII, the shift to Protestantism was already well and truly under way in many parts of Europe, so he merely jumped on the bandwagon for ulterior motives.
I’ve read the first and third books you mention, (fab) and will have to scout around for the Lipscomb one.

  Elisabeth Smith wrote @

I think a point should be made that Georgiana was certainly a product of her time. Her fertility caused her to put up with alot until she produced the long-for heir (do I sense a theme here?) and by then Elizabeth Forster was deeply entrenched in their lives. It was a bizarre sister wives episode set back in time. I enjoyed this book and am looking for more books on her.

  Kathleen wrote @

I have wanted to read this one…I may try it soon. I did enjoy the exhaustively researched Marie Antoinette, but loved the fictional Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund. Really beautiful. Great review and post, as always!

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