From its dawn in the 1660s to its twilight in the 1960s, Cliveden was an emblem of elite misbehaviour and intrigue. Conceived by the Duke of Buckingham as a retreat for his scandalous affair with Anna-Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury, the house later served as the backdrop for the Profumo affair.
In the 300 years between, the house was occupied by a dynasty of remarkable women each of whom left their mark on this great house.
©2016 Natalie Livingstone (P)2016 Oakhill Publishing
"Narratively enthralling...chronicled with scholarship, readability, wit and a fine eye for telling detail." (Andrew Roberts, Evening Standard)
"Her scholarship is considerable and yet she wears it lightly, producing a book which is always lively, entertaining and immensely readable." (Daily Express)
"Wide-ranging and deliciously enjoyable...." (Juliet Nicholson, The Telegraph)
"Meticulously researched." (Mail on Sunday)
"A fascinating journey through English social history, with Cliveden at its heart." (Country Life)
"Fluently written, the book interweaves [these] personal stories with historical snippets illuminating each era and glimpses of life at the pinnacle of society.... The broad sweep through 300 years of social change is packed with plenty of colourful details that capture the heady essence of Cliveden and the bold, spirited women who shared its history." (History Today)
I really enjoyed this but no I wouldn't listen to it again. I would read it though. The house itself has a wonderful history and it's fascinating to hear about it, but the narrator seems to be trying to turn it into some kind of drama - swooping and emoting all over the place. She treats it as if it were a work of fiction and it gets very, very annoying very, very quickly. I would far rather that she had simply read the book as a work of non-fiction. The story is dramatic enough without her trying to help.
Thoroughly entertaining and well researched narrative, which flows very smoothly, thanks to the melodious tones of the reader. I've read widely on the subject yet there was more to learn here. The book combines erudition and humour very cleverly and is clearly written from the heart.
A great listen!!!! If you like your history with more personal insight to its protagonists then this book is for you. An engaging and interesting listen
The thing I liked best about this book was the way that you hear all about the historical setting to each part of the 'story'. Each Mistress who lived in Cliveden is set in the context of the history to that era - social, economic and especially political history. It really did bring the story to life - and so of course, an awful lot of the book does not happen at Cliveden and often had nothing to do with the house, which was not what I was expecting but it worked so well.
I was far more gripped by the more recent eras of the house - the last one was really Nancy Astor and this was by far the most interesting to me. I thought I admired her (first female MP etc) but it turns out she was a fascinating but rather nasty piece of work with ingrained antisemitic views, among other unpleasant things!
The narration was excellent. Just familiar enough, as if you are being confided in, not over-acted by the brilliant C Boyd (Linda Snell, The Archers).
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