PRIVILEGE AND SCANDAL
Gleeson brings Harriet Spencer out from the shadow of her sister, the notorious Georgina, Duchess of Devonshire (an ancestress to Princess Diana). In this meticulously researched, wonderfully written, lively biography Harriet shines. The ability to bring a historical personage to life so that you wish you had known her is a gift, and Gleeson demonstrates that she has the flair here.
Harriet is an eyewitness to the aftermath of Waterloo and lives through the American and French Revolutions, the Napoleonic Wars and the Prince Regent's ascent to the throne. Her life is better than fiction: She made history and became a model for many fictional characters. (Crown, Jun., 380 pp., $24.95)