Nov. 26th, 2014

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Continuing my read-through of Claire Tomalin's oeuvre, we come to Mrs Jordan's Profession, a biography of actress and royal mistress Dora Jordan.

Biographies aren't my favourite read, and Dora Jordan hadn't previously crossed my radar, but Tomalin is so readable, and so intensely interested in and compassionate for her subjects, that her books are irresistible. I've read her Dickens biography and have The Invisible Woman and the Jane Austen biography lined up for future reads. I suspect I'll find the Austen the more interesting of the two, being something of a fan*.

Dora Jordan was a celebrated actress who supported her mother and siblings, her many children, and a profligate Royal prince who went on to become King William IV. Despite her years of dedication to both her profession and her family, she died alone and in poverty, having been swindled by one of her sons-in-law and deserted by the prince who later commissioned a grand statue to her memory.

Tomalin notes that in a two-volume biography of the prince, published in the Victorian era, Dora, who lived with him for twenty years and bore him ten children, is dismissed in a single sentence. Only a woman, and not even a 'proper' woman.

This book is thoughtful, comprehensive, and does not shrink from the sadder, darker truths of Dora's life. She seems to have been a charismatic actress, a loving mother, and certainly did not deserve to be cast into outer darkness at the end of her life. Her children had mixed fortunes--two committed suicide in later life, another became a much-loved member of the clergy.

Well worth a read even if actresses and royal mistresses aren't your thing; Tomalin makes her subjects as fascinating to us as they evidently are to her. That said, this book did take me some time to read, as, although I was enjoying it, I could put it down.

*Modesty forbids.
[identity profile]
At the weekend we went to a local Christmas craft fair, in the social club. Lots of people there and a fair selection of stalls but nothing much we wanted to buy. I rather fancied a toy moose, but it was more than I could bring myself to pay. Or thoil, as they say in Yorkshire.

There were however some cheap books. And so the inevitable happened.

Tornado Down: The Horrifying True Story of Their Gulf War Ordeal by Flt Lts John Peters and John Nichol
Precious Victims by Don W. Weber and Charles Bosworth, Jr.

Also on the stall were a lot of Colin Dexters that tempted me, but not enough.

In other news, I am giving some thought to my Christmas wishlist. And realising I have left it far too late to send things to Monissa. Again. Good resolutions wrap no parcels.


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