Monday, October 11, 2010

Movie Review: The Duchess

Mike and I watched the DVD of "The Duchess" a few weeks ago. It's a highly lavish costume drama about the life of Lady Georgiana Spencer Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, who was the ancestor of both Princess Diana and Sarah, the Duchess of York. Although it's a beautiful film with gorgeous costumes and scenery and the lovely Keira Knightly and Ralph Fiennes, I found it to be depressing.

According to the film, Georgiana married the Duke of Devonshire although she hardly knew him (as things were done in those days). He was a cold, calculating man who cared only for a male heir. He was also portrayed as a ruthless philanderer, and one scene portrayed him raping her. She had multiple miscarriages and bore three daughters, one of which was illegitimately conceived with her lover.

She ended up abandoning her lover for the sake of her children (the Duke threatened to cast her out and take her children away from her). She appeared to lead a horribly sad life...and the parallels to Princess Diana were all too clear.

However, this movie was based on a biography published in 1998, and I did read something that indicated that this story might have been tailored for film audiences. I'm curious to read the biography now to learn the rest of the story. Was the menage a trois portrayed in the film more of a mutual decision? Was she allowed to have multiple lovers? Inquiring minds want to know!


  1. I'm reading the biography right now—probably the best I've ever read. Absolutely fascinating, and much more nuanced than the movie.

    And we now live about 20 minutes from their family seat (Chatsworth), which only adds to the intrigue.

  2. Thanks for the tip! I have added the biography to my reading list. You always have great reading suggestions, Kathryn.