Friday, August 27, 2010

The Lady in Red: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal, and Divorce

The Lady in Red: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal, and Divorce
Hallie Rubenhold
St. Martin’s Griffin, Aug 17 2010, $16.99
ISBN: 9780312624163

In 1782 Baronet Sir Richard Worsley sues his wife's lover Maurice George Bisset for damages to his property when his friend in debauchery eloped with his wife. Richard demands an excessive amount in punitive money for what the man did to his "property", his spouse with “criminal conversation”. Forced to testify under oath though ironically the two males in her life treat her like an object and knowing she will be further ridiculed, Lady Seymour Worsley decides to ruin the reputations of her lover and her husband at the hearing.

This is a terrific historical that provides an incredible look at late eighteenth century English society as gossip and innuendos add fervor to the trial. Hallie Rubenhold explains that this case was so gripping that in spite of the American Revolutionary War still on-going, colonists like General Washington were spellbound with each new revelation and several artists including renowned portraitist Sir Joshua Reynolds lampooned the participants as three fools. Feeling like it could occur today with how society wants more scandalous dirty on celebrities (Tiger Woods comes to mind), readers will rethink their notions of the Georgian aristocracy as this is a great account.

Harriet Klausner

No comments: