Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Amanda Foreman's Book-Signing, I was there!

Tonight was very exciting for me because I got to meet the illustrious Amanda Foreman, esteemed author of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. I was a big, awful mess about our brief encounter but she was very courteous and nice as I babbled on about god knows what. Actually it was like those 80's teenage flicks where I finally worked the courage up to ask a guy out and then spent the rest of the day lamenting how stupid I must have sounded. But, on to the goods!!

Dr. Foreman was introduced as the author of "Diana-er-Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire" (doh!) but this opened up the window for her to talk about the controversy of the awful Princess Diana trailer that was used in the UK marketing of the film. Apparently, it's been getting a lot of press. Foreman went on to say how they are marketing the two Spencer ladies as having parallel lives when in reality, it hasn't been unusual in history for a man to have an affair and cheat on his wife. Good point! She went on to say how it is unusual for that person to live in your house with you. She closed the topic by noting how it is amazing that the Spencers have produced two extraordinary women within the last 200 years and that is the only parallel that should be talked of.

The next topic of discussion was whether she liked the film or not which she decided to bring up since it's been a question she's been receiving a lot lately. Yes, she does like the film. (She really does! I asked her later if she honestly had any complaints and she said no!) But she warned, if you go in expecting to see her book on the screen you will be disappointed. The two things (the book and the movie) are two separate entities and they are both great in their own rights. Foreman talked of how she had seen the movie four times now, and still cries at the end for about ten minutes even thought she (obviously) knows the ending. So basically, what I grasped from this, is that the movie has to be viewed with new eyes. This is not the Georgiana we know and love, but an interpreted, Hollywood version that tells a similar tale that peaks the interest of an unknowing crowd.

Foreman then went on to reiterate what she wrote about in the September edition of US Vogue. How, when she wrote the book (age 25) she saw Georgiana's life full of possibilities and opportunities, kind of like where she was in life. Now that she is older and has five children of her own she would have probably taken a different route in the way she wove the story of Georgiana. A story of mother and her sacrifices for her children. It is this vantage that the film adopts. I remember reading this in Vogue and getting a little shell-shocked because that's what I really focused on as a reader as well and possibly what attracted me to Georgiana.

I also found it funny when Foreman then went on to say, I wish the publishers would just let me add a few more pages to it now that I'm in this perspective, which was basically the question I had been planning on asking her. I asked anyway, wondering if she had found any more juicy tid-bits after the publication that she would have liked to put in. She said mostly no, although she did find out that Georgiana had translated Italian operas during (or after, I can't remember!) the time of her exile which surprised her because she didn't know Georgiana's Italian was that good.

She was so nice as to sign my ratty old copy of the book and not make me buy a new one. I didn't even have to ask her. This morning when I was planning this whole excursion I carefully looked through my books with Foreman's name on the spine. I could have brought my nice hardcover copy of the book, with barely a dent in the spine but I looked at my paperback that I bought while I was researching my dissertation. It has rings on the cover from where I put my teacups while I sat in my bed at night and various tabs and dog-eared pages marking important facts which I can't even identify now. But this copy is what got me through my research and it is what I still grab when I need to look something up. Basically it's been my companion for most of my Georgiana-journey. Now it has a new mark of that journey, just as the Foreman book as a whole has a new mark too, with the release of a movie based on it's content.


  1. That's awesome that you got to meet her and hear her speak.

    If it were me, I'd be way more flattered to sign an obviously well-read book than a brand-new one that would probably end up unread on someone's shelf somewhere. I mean, I'm sure she appreciates the sale, but to know that someone clearly studied her work and enjoyed it enough for the book to show wear - I think that would be a great compliment to the author.

  2. Heather, was this at the Borders on Park Avenue last night? I almost went into hear speak as I passed it by just before 7 pm. I actually got to hear her talk when the book first came out in the US and I treasure my UK copy since apparently she had to cut alot of the political stuff for the US edition.

  3. Padawan, you're probably right! Now, that you've mentioned that it makes a lot of sense.

    Elizabeth, yes it was there! I can't believe you just happened to pass by! I had no idea she had to cut the political talk in the US copy, which just goes to show I always reread my old faithful paperback.

  4. Yes, apparently it was thought that we Americans wouldn't really understand or 'get' all the intricacies of British politics and might be bored.

  5. I'm so jealous!!!! I wish she'd come to Florida...*sigh* We seem to be a bit of a literary wasteland down here.

  6. Oh how wonderful for you! I wish she'd come here, we never have good book signings in Philadelphia :( And I agree, I'm sure she appreciated signing a copy that was obviously well-read and well-loved as much or more as brand new one. You paid just the same as everyone else, after all. Just a bit earlier ;)

  7. "viewed with new eyes. This is not the Georgiana we know and love, but an interpreted, Hollywood version that tells a similar tale that peaks the interest of an unknowing crowd."

    That's what I told you!
    Glad you had fun!!

  8. Great for you!
    I am surprised to hear that Amanda Foreman is now underplaying the Diana-Georgiana analogy, because she recently made comments (I believe it was on her website) emphasizing the similarities between the two ladies. I suppose it was for the sake of promoting the film. I look forward to seeing it, and am reading (and reviewing) the book.