I've just finished reading Stella Tillyard's Aristocrats, the joint biography of the daughters of the 2nd Duke of Richmond; Caroline, Emily, Louisa and Sarah Lennox. Tillyard balances the illumination of the sisters (sometimes sensational) personal lives and relationships, with their involvement in the wider political world of their time. The account is more than just a biography as it touches on issues of social, womens and political history, including Anglo-Irish relations. The books covers the period between 1740 and 1832, but rather than providing a straight chronology, the work is divided into sections by themes. In most cases this works really well, and avoids repetition. However, occasionally this style led to me losing track of dates, and confusing members of the wider family, (I think a family tree would have been a big help). Overall Tillyard's book is a well balanced insight into the lives of four strong individual women of the eighteenth century aristocracy. Aided by the amazing lives of the Lennox sisters, Tillyard's excellently research is balanced with narrative ability, and so produces a historical biography which is many places reads like a novel. I'm not surprised it was made into mini-series by the BBC, and I am off to Amazon to find a copy!
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