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Defiance: The Extraordinary Life of Lady…
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Defiance: The Extraordinary Life of Lady Anne Barnard (2016)

by Stephen Taylor

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413433,203 (4)10
Draws on six volumes of unpublished memoirs to chronicle the life of Lady Anne Barnard, an eighteenth- and nineteenth-century poet and painter, who lived on her own terms and defied the conventions of her day.

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I found Lady Anne to be a bit annoying, and not quite the strong, unconventional woman the book jacket suggested. Her decisions frequently seemed shallow, and she didn't show any ability to plan ahead, careening from disaster to disaster with little insight. ( )
  dcoward | Sep 6, 2017 |
Lady Anne Barnard is a character who existed on the fringes of both nobility and political high society in the late 18th century. Born into a financially constrained titles family in Scotland, her family was much older than her mother and her upbringing did not afford many luxuries. Entering into Edinburgh society at 16 Anne was expected to marry for money, to support her younger siblings, but this did not happen and Anne moved to London. Juggling various suitors Anne married late and to a man socially her inferior but it appears to have been a love match. What make Anne Barnard such an engaging character is that she kept much of her correspondence over the years and published it.

I really enjoyed this book because Anne was such a relatively obscure character. She witnessed many atrocities in the French Revolution, was a friend to the Prince of Wales and assisted his secret marriage to Maria Fitzherbert, was a close friend to many major politicians and helped to develop diplomatic relationships in South Africa as Britain took power. All-in-all she was a fascinating woman and this biography more than does her justice. Taylor has researched his book deeply, drawing on both contemporary sources and Anne's own meticulously kept papers, and produced a lively story of a remarkable woman ( )
  pluckedhighbrow | Jun 26, 2017 |
This was a great biography, I can't recommend it highly enough. The author has grasped that whilst the details of someone's life are fascinating, sometimes less is more. So I've finished 'her story' wanting to go and read the original memoirs written by Anne herself, rather than going never too hear about the person again. Also, he doesn't do the really annoying 'why my person is so significant reading this book is going to change your life'. The book speaks for itself.

Anne had a fascinating life: she was a young witness to the Edinburgh Enlightenment, meeting Hume and Rousseau. She was a friend of the mistress (then wife) of the Prince of Wales. She turned down repeated offers of marriage, gained a reputation as a flirt, and had her heart broken by one leading British politician, and rejecting another. But she is famous for her diaries and letters recording her time in the Cape as the wife of the Secretary to the Governor.

I really liked this. If you're interested in the regency period, colonialism, early travel narratives, or even Scottish history (even Walter Scott appears) you might like this too.(ARC from Netgalley) ( )
2 vote charl08 | Dec 12, 2016 |
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