MARLBOROUGH'S DUCHESS: A Study in Worldliness by Louis Kronenberger

MARLBOROUGH'S DUCHESS: A Study in Worldliness

Email this review


This should have been called- perhaps- Marlborough: His Life, His Times, His Duchess and permitted to keep its present subtitle, the book would have been better described. Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, was born two weeks after Charles II returned in triumph to England after the Cromwellian years; her time of greatest public importance was when she became the closest friend of Queen Anne; and she died in 1744, during the reign of George II. In a time when women lived idle lives, she was a moving force in Whig politics. When marriages were made for convenience and profit, the Churchills married for love and were never unfaithful. And in an age of malicious fights, both public and private, waged on a grand and noisy scale, Sarah was a champion haranguer and battler. Until the Duke's death in 1722, her story is inextricably bound up with his and with the events of their times as the author disarmingly points out in a forenote, but it is unfortunate that we are not allowed to see Sarah in the round until the last quarter of the book, dealing with her widowhood, when at last traits of less historical importance but of almost equal interest in a biography are brought out. Because of this neglect, Sarah is not seen to develop (or not develop, if she didn't) but only pops in and out of a more general narrative. Nevertheless, she emerges as a fascinating character, and Mr. Kronenberger, while keeping intrigues and politics clear, maintains his reputation as a stylish writer of historical narrative.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1958
Publisher: Knopf