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.