ADMIRAL'S FANCY by Showell Styles


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The much celebrated career of Lady Hamilton takes on a somewhat jaundiced tint in this account allegedly delivered by Captain Ben Hallowell, one of Nelson's celebrated Nile Captains. Hallowell is introduced to the young enchantress, born Amy Hart, when, at the mercy of an indifferent lover, she tries to eke out a few farthings as Romney's model. Immediately arrested by her Circe quality, Hallowell responds to her beauty and her genius for assuming whatever personality she intuitively feels a man desires. Throughout the years their lives cross as he watches with growing disenchantment her singular liaison with the ancient Lord Hamilton, her blatant infidelities, and finally her extravagant and reciprocal affair with Nelson. At one instant playing the role of stateswoman, the now portly beauty, when the whim moves her, casually weans Nelson away from his duties and her general irresponsibility, Hallowell asserts, was directly responsible for the drowning of four hundred and eighty British seamen. Lady Hamilton's career pursued that tawdry path which fiction is so fond of ascribing to ruthless temptresses and her death in Paris in 1815 was appropriately accompanied by squalor and total drunken debauchery. Showell Styles writes with relative dispassion of the tempestuous heroine, her obsessed lover, and their pathetic daughter. Despite the framework of fiction, there is much in this novel which is of factual interest, but to those who prefer their history dosed with contrived melodrama, the author's circumspect British style will be somewhat disappointing.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 1958
Publisher: Longmans, Green