Wednesday, 8 March 2017

These Great Ladies by Lyndsy Spence

Author Lyndsy Spence has a talent for shedding light on remarkable women in British history. She has written biographies of such diverse subjects as the controversial Diana Mosley and beloved actress Margaret Lockwood. Her latest book, These Great Ladies: Peeresses and Pariahs, came out just last month.

These Great Ladies: Peeresses and Pariahs is a collection of pen portraits of various women from British, 20th Century history. Some, such as Margaret, Duchess of Argyll and author Joan Wyndham, are still somewhat famous to this day. Others, such as Jean, Viscountess Massereene, have somewhat faded into obscurity. Regardless of how famous they are today, each and every one of the women profiled by Miss Spence is fascinating in her own right. What is more they are a diverse group, from those born on the wrong side of the tracks (as we would say in the Colonies) to aristocrats to one who was more royal than the British Royals themselves (Mariga Guinness).

The stories Lyndsy Spence tells of these remarkable women range from the scandalous to the tragic.  What is more, they are set across a wide swathe of Anglo-American society, from the country houses of the United Kingdom to the mansions of Hollywood. These Great Ladies: Peeresses and Pariahs presents us with women who married multiple times, women who fought drug addiction, women who lived bohemian lives, and women who went to great lengths to support various charities.

Miss Spence writes of these women with a light tone, while at the same time recognising the seriousness of much of the subject matter (such as when dealing with the politics of the eras). What is more, she treats each of these women sympathetically, recognising that they were human beings who were both products of their times and their circumstances. Using a concise but very readable style, Lyndsy Spence is able to give us insight into her various subjects that isn't often seen even in full length biographies.

These Great Ladies: Peeresses and Pariahs is highly recommended for anyone who is interested in British, 20th Century history, the British aristocracy, or who simply enjoys reading about the lives of fascinating women. In the book Miss Spence covers Margaret, Duchess of Argyll; Mariga Guinness; Sylvia Ashley; Joan Wyndham;  Enid Lindeman:;Venetia Montagu; Irene Curzon; and Jean, Viscountess Massereene.

These Great Ladies: Peeresses and Pariahs is available through Amazon and various fine book sellers.

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