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Summary

A New York Times Notable Book

Now a major motion picture   

Lady Georgiana Spencer was the great-great-great-great-aunt of Diana, Princess of Wales, and was nearly as famous in her day. In 1774 Georgiana achieved immediate celebrity by marrying William Cavendish, fifth duke of Devonshire, one of England's richest and most influential aristocrats. She became the queen of fashionable society and founder of the most important political salon of her time. But Georgiana's public success concealed an unhappy marriage, a gambling addiction, drinking, drug taking, and rampant love affairs with the leading politicians of the day. 

With penetrating insight, Amanda Foreman reveals a fascinating woman whose struggle against her own weaknesses, whose great beauty and flamboyance, and whose determination to play a part in the affairs of the world make her a vibrant, astonishingly contemporary figure. 

Praise for The Duchess 

“Georgiana bursts from the pages of Amanda Foreman’s dazzling biography like the force of nature she undoubtedly was - passionate, political, addicted to gambling, and drunk on life. This is a stunning book about an astonishing woman.” (Simon Schama)

“Biography at its best...seamlessly merges a life and its times, capturing not just an individual but an age.” (The New York Times Book Review)

“Riveting...marvelously diverting.” (The New Yorker)

©2016 Amanda Foreman (P)2016 Random House Audio

Critic reviews

"Georgiana bursts from the pages of Amanda Foreman's dazzling biography like the force of nature she undoubtedly was - passionate, political, addicted to gambling, and drunk on life. This is a stunning book about an astonishing woman." (Simon Schama)
"Biography at its best...seamlessly merges a life and its times, capturing not just an individual but an age." ( The New York Times Book Review )
"Riveting...marvelously diverting." ( The New Yorker)

What listeners say about The Duchess

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wonderful listen

Incredible intimate insight into the lives of the aristocracy in the 18th century. Has also inspired me to read into politics of that era.

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  • Sarah
  • 31-07-17

Better than the movie!

Where does The Duchess rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I loved this book. I loved the movie, wanted to know more about the Duchess. She is even more interesting than the movie led on. Her personal life history is so amazing, she led such an interesting life. I love historical biographies, and this is definitely worth your time and money!

What did you like best about this story?

The personal loves of the Duchess, and her dalliances into politics and how both these things greatly influenced her life and the people around her.

11 people found this helpful

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  • Johanna
  • 15-05-16

Captivating Biography with Outstanding Narration

The story of Georgiana, the Duchess of Devonshire is inspirational at times, tragic at times, and chock-full of juicy gossip. I enjoyed learning about this fascinating woman and her crazy social circle.

Amanda Foreman’s knowledge is mesmerizing, and Wanda McCaddon’s narration is equally as engaging. McCaddon even uses character voices to read the many letters in the book!

As you will notice from the book cover, the 2008 movie, The Duchess, with Keira Knightley was based on this biography. I wasn’t a huge fan of the movie, but have now learned after listening to the book that the film is riddled with historical blunders. It doesn’t nearly do justice to the complexity of Georgiana’s rich life.

If you like this biography and time period, I would highly recommend listening to the novel Evelina by Frances Burney next.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Shannah Woody
  • 10-09-20

So good!

I purchased this after listening to a podcast about her. The History Chicks Podcast did a wonderful job of summarizing and describing her. I wanted to know more so I listened to this book upon their recommendation. What an interesting and fascinating life she lead! I really enjoyed this book!

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  • Suea
  • 02-01-21

couldn't understand this reader

I was interested in the subject matter and will look for a better reader. Very frustrating to listen to such an unintelligible narrator.

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  • MM
  • 20-01-22

So much better than the movie!

Interesting and informative. The movie glosses over important events but this book gives a balanced view of a women with great strengths and greater weaknesses. Her life brings to mind the old adage that “the grass is not always greener on the other side.”

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-05-21

Snooze Fest

I had great expectations for this book , however I could not make it through it. I felt I was back in a college lecture hall. Full of facts and figures but little entertainment value.

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  • M. T. Thomas
  • 25-05-21

Biography of a Powerful 18th-century Woman

As a reader of historical fiction, I found this book a little tedious at times. However, it was worth reading to the end as the last chapter was the one I got the most out of. Great descriptions of the goings-on at Chatsworth House which I have visited. The last chapter is the best unbiased discussion of the status of women that I have ever read.

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  • Juanita Pappert
  • 20-02-21

I feel conned!

Great material but this is merely a sample or preview. You get engrossed easily, the storyline and narration are wonderful! But it definitely not worth 1 credit, IMHO.

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  • Rosa Lilly Hilmarsdottir
  • 01-11-20

Well written and delivered biography

Well written and delivered biography. The author did a fantastic job of bringing the Duchess of Devonshire to life thorough forgotten letters. The movie does not do the book justice!