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Life Mask

by Emma Donoghue

I read this book when I was off sick from work, it was the perfect antidote. I became completely immersed in an 18th century world (without antibiotics...) of art, politics and turbulent world affairs. It focuses on the Beau Monde of the 18th century, the Quality, the Ton and contrasts the lives of Eliza Farren, low-born shining star of Drury Lane with The Honourable Anne Damer, widowed daughter of aristocracy and amateur sculptor. The complex and hypocritcal social mores of the time are laid bare, the belief that your station at birth renders you automatically inferior or superior to your neighbour is illustrated beautifully by the reaction of the protagonists to the horrors of the French revolution and the demise of the French monarchy. It is full of really interesting social and political history, Fox, the Whig leader is portayed as a brilliant, highly principled thinker with unfortunate personal hygiene. It is a really evocative read, and because it's crammed full of historical detail, I felt I'd absorbed a history lesson by osmosis. I would thoroughly recommend this, it is completely gripping and based on a true story that scandalised 18th century London.

Suggested by Joanna, Cirencester

Tagged with: fascinating

 

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