THE GAME OF HEARTS by Lesley- Ed. Blanch


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The author of The Wilder Shores of Love (1954) continues her romantic interests in presenting The Memoirs of Harriette Wilson, which were avidly read in the 19th century. For Harriette was a successful Regency courtesan, whose life story was published in installments, with an eye to blackmail (if you paid, you would not be mentioned and if you did not pay upon request, the mention was not favorable). Miss Blanch's biography of Harriette, a discussion of the oldest profession, and a montage of Harriette's period, sets the stage for the Memoirs which are not in the least pornographic and are rather a loosely strung series of episodes and personages, among which extracts from Harriette's professional friend and rival, Julia Johnstone's memoirs, are interpolated and offset some of Harriette's assertions. ""I shall not say why, or how, I became, at 15, the mistress of the Earl of Craven"", so begins the chronicle, and continues to tell how Harriette whirled through the world of fashion, captivated Wellington, knew Brummel and Byron, was ""far gone in love"" with Lord Ponsonby and devastated when he left her, fought a losing battle with the Beaufort family over her affair with the young heir, Lord Worcester, and, outliving her youth and popularity, descended to her malicious blackmailing. The prattle of a ""small, giddy shade"" has its curiosity value and often gives some entertaining glimpses of those Regency rakes, their double lives, their cult of fashion, their arrogance and their privileges. The scandal value here has faded but it might appeal as a period pice.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1955
Publisher: Simon & Schuster