I enjoyed reading The Duchess of Drury Lane. I liked that it was written in first person. This doesn't always work for me, but, in this case it did. Readers meet a young woman who becomes a famous actress on the stage. She was known by several different names in her life, and, I believe at least two or three different stage names. (The book jacket calls her 'Dorothy Jordan' but usually in the text she's Dora.) The first third of the book focuses on her life before discovery. To help her family earn enough money, she became an actress on the stage like her mother before her. She found she could do comedy quite well, and, her singing voice could charm audiences. Unfortunately, unwanted attention from her employer led to pregnancy. When her mother learned the truth, they fled the scene and started new lives elsewhere. Her debts to her old boss were eventually paid, however, by a new employer. The rest of the novel focuses on her successes mostly on stage and her perhaps regrettable choices off stage. She fell for a man who promised marriage but didn't deliver, even after she gave birth to his two children. Eventually, that relationship soured and she was persuaded to become the mistress of the Duke of Clarence. In all fairness, her relationship with William (William IV in later years) could not end with marriage. George III made it almost impossible for his brothers and sisters and sons and daughters to marry. The two lived as if they were married (without official sanction, of course) for almost two decades, I believe. She continued on stage for most of her life. Her income was too necessary for her family, for William and their children, for her children from previous relationships, for her own siblings. This book should prove interesting to anyone with an interest in the theatre during the Georgian era.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews