Amanda Foreman has said more than once that if she were to write Georgiana's biography at this point in her life she would have taken then same angle The Duchess has taken in emphasizing Georgiana's affair with Charles Grey. Although I am personally glad Foreman did not take that approach, fellow author Janet Gleeson did for her biography of Georgiana's sister: Privilege and Scandal: The Remarkable Life of Harriet Spencer, Sister to Georgiana. In fact the paperback form in the UK goes under the name of An Aristocratic Affair. Although Harriet's decade-long affair doesn't define who she is (which Gleeson never infers, of course), it is interesting to see the different vantages of the two books, seeing as the two women did have similar lives.
Harriet was the shy, younger Ashlee Simpson to Georgiana's Jessica. As much as this book doesn't spend all its time comparing the two, I automatically did with both the sisters as well as the books. Awful, I know; so please excuse any further comparisons! Despite being shy, Harriet shared many of the same interests as Georgiana, especially politics. Unlike her sister she quickly birthed an heir and spare to her abusive husband. Harriet's life was filled with suffering due to ill health and stupid men...oh and her daughter Caroline Lamb did not make things very easy either. Many who know the story of Georgiana know that the sisters were very close but will be surprised at just how close the two were. I was surprised to find that Harriet requested to be buried alongside her beloved sister when she succumbed to illness years later.
Gleeson's book gives voice to a fascinating woman who is commonly disregarded in history. You find yourself loving Harriet, despite her human faults, and wondering what could possibly happen next. The writing has a clear, even flow which gives understanding to topics that could be somewhat confusing, such as politics and elections. It is amazing how much information Gleeson was able to procure since most of Harriet's personal letters were burnt. I would highly recommend adding this book to your reading list. It gives a different and interesting perspective to the Spencer and Devonshire families and expands upon the Devonshire House set. So let Harriet take center stage in your reading repertoire and pick up this fabulous book!