This is the story of the talented actress and comic genius of Dorothy Jordan, one of the goddesses of the Drury Lane Theatre Green Room, and how she attracted the attention of William, Duke of Clarence, the third son of King George III.
From poverty in Ireland to fame and notoriety in London, England, the multi-talented Dorothy Jordan would have many admirers. A one man woman, however, she was devoted to hearth and family. Her intimate relationship with the Duke of Clarence would span twenty years and ten children. They would live in connubial bliss as a family, though he could not, for reasons of state, marry her, being third in the line of succession to the throne of England. With William, Ms. Jordan was to know great joy and great sorrow.
William's penchant for living beyond his means, however, ensured that Ms. Jordan would continue working in the footlights of the theatre, as her income was a necessity to maintain their high standard of living. This would prove to be a sore point between them, as Dorothy wanted nothing more than to leave the paintpots of the theatre and live the life of full-time wife and mother. William's profligate spending would ensure that her dream would never come to fruition.
Eventually, William would have a mid-life crisis and their twenty years of family life would come to an abrupt end, as William would ostensibly seek to meet his obligation to the state. Dorothy Jordan, now an ill woman in her fifties, abandoned by her long time lover and husband in all but name, ignored by the very children to whom she had been so devoted, would live the lonely life of an expatriate in France, living out her remaining years virtually alone and friendless.
This is an engaging work of historical fiction, providing many glimspes into the lives of members of the royal family and all their contretemps. It provides a peek into the madness of King George III, the various relationships of George, the Prince of Wales, including that with his long time mistress, Maria Fitzherbert, and that with his much disdained wife, Caroline. All these personages and their lives provide a backdrop for William's and Dorothy's relationship, making for a three dimensional, well told tale that all those who love historical fiction will enjoy.
As with all of Jean Plaidy's books, I loved this one! It was interesting to learn about the life of an actress in the 1700's (they were considered no better than prostitutes), and especially of William IV. The Georgian Saga is my favorite series of Jean Plaidy's, and it is easy to see why!