Sigh- behind again! But not by much, actually, as my reading seems to have come to an almost grinding halt in the month of May. However, there is one book that was well worth the read, in my opinion:
Title: Beau Brummell
Author: Ian Kelly
# of Pages: 416 (including notes)
Publisher: Free Press
Amazon review available at:
http://tinyurl.com/lja3h (under Chapati)
As anyone who knows me well at all knows, I ADORE Regency England. Truly, madly, deepy (yes, just like Savage Garden). No other period in history fascinates me nearly so much, for whatever reason, and since starting with Jane Austen, moving on to Georgette Heyer, and then gobbling up any reading material I could find on the slim period from 1750-1820, I'd like to think I have a somewhat passing knowledge of the time. And one cannot know much about Georgian Era and Regency England without knowing about the famed George Bryan Brummell, the fashion leader of the Haut Ton.
So obviously, I snatched up Ian Kelly's book as soon as it was released. And it's so good! Kelly shares some tantalizing Brummell witticisms that will have you cracking up (He was hilarious. I think we'd get along well. Except for my distinct lack of fashion sense.). He introduces us to Brummell's parents, who were at the fringe of society. We go with Brummell to Eton, and then to stint in army life at Brighton, where he met the Prince of Wales. We follow him to London where, finally, he becomes London's fashionista.
But we don't stop there. We also go with Brummell on his humiliating flight to France after his friendship with the Prince ended and his debts had overcome him. We sit with him for a while in Calais, and then watch as he heart-breakingly falls in love for the first time when he is an old man and already wasting from syphilis. And then we see him die a slow, painful death from disease.
Many people described Brummell as being cruel or unkind, but Kelly clearly enjoys his subject. And how can you not? Brummell was the life of every party. But mostly, it is impossible to feel anything but compassion and wonder at this man who rose up so high in London's tight-knit society, and then fell so far. And dealt with his fall always with sangfroid and fun and optimism. Whatever else he was, Brummell was not a quitter. And Kelly's description of this man who was a fashion icon and yet refused to ever sit for a full-length portrait brings the legend vividly back to life.