Georgiana Spencer became Duchess of Devonshire on her marriage to the Duke in 1774, at the height of the Georgian period, a period of fashion, decadence, and political change. Spirited and adored by the public at large she quickly found her marriage to be a disappointment, defined by her duty to produce a male heir and the Duke’s philandering and callous indifference to her. She befriends Lady Bess but finds she is once again betrayed by her husband who wields his power with the three eventually living uncomfortably together. Against this background, and with the pressures of an unfaithful husband, strict social pressures and constant public scrutiny, Georgiana falls passionately in love with Charles Grey, a rising young Whig politician. However, despite his ongoing liaison with Lady Bess, the Duke refuses to allow her to continue the affair and threatens to take her children from her.
User Reviews: What rather wonderful about this story is that Georgiana Spencer (Keira Knightley) discovers a way to exult in victory over things and to get back some kind of power in a time where, really, women had very little Being someone of great vitality and liveliness, she was very much a dreamer and an idealist, a woman who loved being the center of attention, who loved the fact at some point that her picture was in the paper, that the clothes were always talked of, that her every move was commented on
We are immediately impressed by her presence, by her personality She wasn’t behaving quite in accordance with the way in which other 18th century women were expected to behave
But there was something incredibly sad about this self-conscious lady She was a victim of herself A victim of her own innocence A victim of people using her for their own profit Even though she seemed to have everything, we realize that it was not that simple And with all of her privilege came a lot of moral obligation and things were never what they really appeared to be
The Duke (Ralph Fiennes) was a misanthropic man, rather cold, unemotional and quite cruel He seems to like better his hunting dogs to his young wife Of course with certain values, that he believes were absolutely right and that he strictly held to
This sumptuous period piece also presents the Duchess of Devonshire as a political hostess Saul Dibb’s film shows us her dinner parties, her evening events, her fame and its extraordinary effect on her It made her both desperate to please, terrified of doing anything wrong and shocked at her own celebrity and unable to figure out in her own mind why she was quite so famous And we see the crippling effect it has on her sense of self