My Lady Scandalous: The Amazing Life and Outrageous Times of Grace Dalrymple Elliott, Royal Courtesan

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Simon & Schuster, Aug 23, 2005 - History - 432 pages
13 Reviews
A wicked turnabout on Jane Austen's oft-quoted adage -- "a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" -- is "My Lady Scandalous, " a richly raucous history that traverses the notoriously licentious British Regency era in the company of its most celebrated courtesan.

Following a simple Edinburgh girlhood, Grace Dalrymple came of age in the sin city of London, where wealthy men ruled society and women had everything to lose, starting with their reputations. As an impressionable bride of seventeen who married a man more than twice her age, Grace's remarkable beauty (likened by journalists to "a May morning") soon attracted the attentions of other men. A disastrous liaison with a consummate rake not only branded Grace as a demi-rep -- a woman with half a reputation -- but the scandal provoked Dr. John Eliot, her philandering husband, to pursue a divorce.

Grace became mistress of the most infamous peer in England, George James, Lord Cholmondeley, whose "secret perfections" were reputed to inspire "female enthusiasm." Cholmondeley commemorated the relationship by commissioning two works from eminent portraitist Thomas Gainsborough, first in 1778 and later in 1782, the same year Grace gave birth to a daughter, Georgiana (who may, in fact, have been the child of the Prince of Wales). Had Grace been an aristocrat, she and Cholmondeley might have had a future together, but it was not to be.

The tabloids broke the news: "Miss Dalrymple has embarked for France, and it is said parted with her noble gallant." Grace was soon to find a new protector in that nation's richest man, Philippe, Duc d'Orleans. Though Grace was ensconced as "one of the most brilliant and popular among the fashionable 'impures, '''" her liaison with the duke turned perilous when Orleans fell to the Revolution's guillotine, just as she narrowly escaped with her life.

"People die, but love may not," declares author Jo Manning of her subject's romantic and historic misadventures. A connoisseur of the times, Manning ably demonstrates -- through contemporary newspapers, magazines, prints, and portraits as well as Grace's posthumously published journal -- how life in George III's England and Marie Antoinette's France can seem strangely familiar, especially when history turns to affairs of the heart.

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Review: My Lady Scandalous: The Amazing Life and Outrageous Times of Grace Dalrymple Elliott, Royal Courtesan

User Review  - Carrie White - Goodreads

Grace Dalrymple was an incredibly fascinating woman, rising up from an early scandal to touch several monarchies, leave a fabulous memoir, and survive the French Revolution and the Terror that came ... Read full review

Review: My Lady Scandalous: The Amazing Life and Outrageous Times of Grace Dalrymple Elliott, Royal Courtesan

User Review  - Lacey Lane - Goodreads

Interesting but also not. I had to reread so many pages because I kept falling asleep and couldn't remember what I'd just read. It started out rather slow. The Introduction was a random assortment of ... Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
Dally the Tall
13
The Proud Scottish Dalrymples
27
Copyright

18 other sections not shown

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About the author (2005)

Jo Manning is the author of two Regency romances, The Reluctant Guardian and Seducing Mr. Heywood (a Booklist Ten Best Romances of the Year selection), and The Sicilian Amulet, a contemporary romance. She was also the founder and director of the Reader's Digest General Books Library for over twenty years. Manning divides her time between London and Miami Beach. My Lady Scandalous is her first work of nonfiction.

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