The Extraordinary Life of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle,
the First Woman to Live by Her Pen
by Katie Whitaker
My rating: 4 of 5 starsA short synopsis:
Margaret Cavendish's life as a writer and noblewoman unfolded against the backdrop of the English Civil War and Restoration. Pursuing the only career open to women of her class, she became a lady-in-waiting to the Queen Henrietta Maria. Exiled to Paris with the Queen, she met and married William Cavendish, Marquis of Newcastle. In exile, Margaret did something unthinkable for a seventeenth-century Englishwoman: she lived proudly as a writer. Eventually she published twenty-three volumes, starting with Poems and Fancies, the first book of English poetry published by a woman under her own name. But later generations too easily accepted the disparaging opinions of her shocked critics, and labeled her "Mad Madge of Newcastle."Mad Madge is both a lively biography of a fascinating woman and a window on a tumultuous cultural time.
Well, I finally finished "Mad Madge", Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle. I bet you thought I never would. (After all, I started in back in February.) I really enjoyed this book. It took me a long time to finish it, but I savored every moment. Some reviewers thought it slow, but that is what I liked about it. It was not a "page turner", but held my interest.
If you like history, you might like this peek at the mid-1600's through Margaret's eyes. I thought Ms. Whitaker's research excellent. Not only was Margaret not "mad", but was an imminent figure of her time as noted throughout the book and in the Epilogue. I recommend it to you.
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