Sunday, July 22, 2007

England's Mistress

Title: England's Mistress
Author: Kate Williams
Arrow Books, 2007 (2006)

Getting to know the famous men in history through their women is a lot more interesting than concentrating on only the men themselves. The same is true for Nelson, the hero of the Nile and Trafalgar. This biography, you see, is actually not about him, but about the love of his life - Lady Emma Hamilton. Born to poverty and a life of toil in an obscure, bleak mining village, this beauty broke free and climbed the social ladder straight up to the top (almost). She begun as a lowly maid, was then forced to resort to common prostitution before her beauty and artistic ability made her the muse of Romney. She moved to Naples, married into the nobility and became Queen Maria Carolina's close friend and confidante. This is a brilliant biography (and that can be a stuffy genre) about a brilliant time and this endearing woman could only have lived and reinvented herself as she did at just that time.

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