Internationally bestselling historian Antonia Fraser's book brilliantly evokes one year of pre-Victorian political and social history - the passing of the Great Reform Bill of 1832, an eventful and violent year that featured riots in Bristol, Manchester and Nottingham.
The time-span of the book is from Wellington's intractable declaration in November 1830 that 'The beginning of reform is beginning of revolution' to 7 June 1832, when William IV reluctantly assented to the Great Reform Bill, under the double threat of the creation of 60 new peers in the House of Lords and the threat of revolution throughout the country. Wider themes of Irish and 'negro emancipation' underscore the narrative.
The book is character driven; we learn of the Whig aristocrats prepared to whittle away their own power to bring liberty to the country, the all-too-conservative opposition who included the intransigent Duchess of Kent and Queen Adelaide and finally the 'revolutionaries' like William Cobbett, author of Rural Rides. These events led to a total change in the way Britain was governed, a two-year revolution that Antonia Fraser brings to vivid dramatic life.
"A writer whose command of sources, eye for detail, perception of character and shrewd judgment enable her to bring the past truthfully to life" ( Sunday Telegraph)
"Drama, betrayal, religion and sex, it's all here, adorned by often fascinating, at times esoteric detail" ( Guardian)
"Fraser brings to life the female stars circling the Sun King in an account that successfully combines erudition with gossipy stories of the kind the Versailles courtiers loved so much." ( Sunday Times)