Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Scandal of the Season by Sophie Gee

Synopsis: London, 1711. As the rich, young offspring of the city's most fashionable families ll their days with masquerade balls and clandestine court-ships, Arabella Fermor and Robert, Lord Petre, lead the pursuit of pleasure. Beautiful and vain, Arabella is a clever coquette with a large circle of beaus. Lord Petre, seventh Baron of Ingatestone, is a man-about-town with his choice of mistresses. Drawn together by an overpowering attraction, the two begin an illicit affair. Alexander Pope, sickly and nearly penniless, is peripheral by birth, yet his uncommon wit and ambition gain him unlikely entrance into high society. Once there, privy to every nuance and drama, he is a ruthless observer. He longs for the success that will cement his place in society; all he needs is one poem grand enough to make his reputation.

As the forbidden passion between Arabella and Lord Petre deepens, an intrigue of a darker nature threatens to overtake them. Fortunes change and reputations -- even lives -- are imperiled. In the aftermath, Pope discovers the idea for a daring poem that will catapult him to fame and fortune.

My thoughts: It’s been a while huh? Because of my university and exams and all that, I didn’t have the time to sit down and properly write something. Buuut, anyway, here is my review on this amazing book.

This book was a joy to read. Since nowadays historic novels are a thing, it has become even harder to find a good book in this genre. The Scandal of the season is one of these good novels that are extremely well-written, very detailed – but not in a way to disturb the reading; the details just complete what the writer is trying to portray – and very amusing. Many of the questions that are raised during the readout are accurate to what society today represents: to live by appearances; to be left alone by those you once thought were your friends; how man can make wrong choices and still find a way to not feel guilty about them.

What I liked the most was the fact that this book is based in real people; Alexander Pope did exist, as well as all the other characters, and the author wrote in such a way that it seemed as if she was a part in all of that. It seemed as if she was in the room when Arabella was humiliated, for example. The dialogues are extremely rich and complex, with deep morals behind it. A few times I had to stop and really think through what they just say, because it rang so true to my ears that it blew my mind.

Finally, the period of time is very good: it’s during the jacobite revolution, right after the Catholics were persecuted by the Protestants, and the jacobites were trying to win the throne for king James III, exiled in France. A few years later there would be the Cullodeen battle in Scotland, when the clans would be massacred and their culture forbidden throughout the land.

As “The Economist” said in their review, this book will please those who liked “Shakespeare in love” and “Les Liaisons Dangereuses”, from Laclos, and I agree with them: it has drama, a rebellion, nobility, betrayals and a very accurate and true portrait of the XVIIIth century society.


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