An insider's history of the Spencer family, this book tells the family's story from the sheepfarmers of the 16th century through the Civil War and then the relationship with the Marlboroughs, on through the 19th century when the third Earl was one of the architects of the 1832 Reform Bill, to recent years and the death of Princess Diana. In the last chapter, Charles Spencer writes about his own views of the family's history and what hopes he has for the future.
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That this book would have been rather less likely without a certain Diana Spencer is beyond dispute. Even Charles Spencer does not deny the influence of his sister in keeping the family image buoyant in the public eye and the market place, be it books or Althorp guided tours. Genealogy is a favourite sport of the aristocracy and Spencer is eager to bring his dusty ancestors to life and march them through the chilly corridors of their imperious residences. That they keep up a lively step is to his credit as a tune-caller and writer.
The Spencer family was typical in producing sons who were to choose between the ecclesiastical cloth and the gaming cloth. The family came to the fore in the 15th and 16th centuries as prosperous Northamptonshire sheep farmers who spun wool into gold and whose influence steadily grew into the military and politics until no Cabinet was true without a Spencer. Common strands to the family's dealings were patronage of the arts and a liberal Whig sensibility, books and bookmakers but perhaps the family is most interesting in the women it contained. Sarah Marlborough, Lavinia Spencer and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, were the strong-willed, resolute characters who shaped the family name and most bore the characteristics for which the family became known. While the men held power, their wives wielded it. The tale of the Spencers is the story of English aristocracy en masse. And what of Diana? Wisely he deals with her in less than a paragraph, aware of the glut of words already used up on her life, but unfortunately such discipline doesn't extend to the publishers, who include a picture of her on the book's cover, and say that its contents put her life into "vivid context". This is to do an injustice to her brother's cause, for his unique mix of historical research and family fable makes for a very readable account in its own right, enlivened rather than spoilt by his engaging and distinctively Spencerian voice. --David Vincent
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Book Description PENGUIN BOOKS LTD, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0140279075
Book Description PENGUIN BOOKS LTD. PAPERBACK. Book Condition: New. 0140279075 We guarantee all of our items - customer service and satisfaction are our top priorities. Please allow 4 - 14 business days for Standard shipping, within the US. Bookseller Inventory # TM-0140279075
Book Description PENGUIN BOOKS LTD, 2000. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110140279075