Wow What a life Harriette Wilson was the most promiment curtesan of her day She was not a kept woman, but rather she kept men I think the most fun thing about it is that she wrote her memoirs as blackmailso she tells the most scandalous tales while still maintaining dignity Her family, friends, true loves, bad lovers, and even Lord Byron all leap from the page out of the past and into your heart A fun look into regency England. From BBC Radio 4 Nancy Carroll stars as Harriette Wilson, one of the most infamous and talked about women of the early 19th century Her lovers included aristocrats, adventurers and even the Duke of Wellington himself And when they all ceased to support her after her retirement, she had a simple bargain for them pay up, and I ll keep you out of my memoirs. This memoir was scatter brained, unorganized, and very real I found it refreshing, almost like listening to someone chat about their day Hariette is real, she shows her life as she experienced it I would be interested in comparing Hariette s version of events to other people who knew her and the people and places she talks about Her stories and accounts of the people around her are interesting and often funny or tragic As intriguing as her stories are, they are based primarily on her personal opinion I would like to read any other personal accounts of the people described, just to compare impressions and understand the their personalities better I found myself very invested in Harriete s story I didn t agree with her, or even understand her completely, but I liked her She wanted to be happy, to be independent, she wanted to be admired but not controlled Throughout her story she opens up about her feelings, disappointments, amusements, and about her personal relationships At the same time she never fully says everything, there is an undercurrent of reserve, of hiding how much certain losses affected her She says what happened, sometimes she shows sadness, but usually with just a blunt acknowledgement of facts I believe, having finished reading her memoirs, that she had to be strong, move forward, for so long that she can t focus for too long on her past sadness Harriete talks a lot about her arguements with her families and protectors Though occasionally she claims fault and shows regret, overall she believes herself in the right, or less at fault than others There are a couple of people that she obviously cares about throughout her life, people that Hariette could count on and trust, they are discussed with love and portrayed well Those who betrayed her trust, left her badly, or hurt her are portrayed in a much negative or ridiculous light There is no doubt in my mind that is she is biased, but who isn t when telling their own story I had to use both the book s biographical notes as well as other research material due to my lack of knowledge of the period, people, and events A downside to the chatty, confiding air of the book is that the author takes it for granted that the reader will know about the people, places, and events going on around her These memoirs are a unique look into Regency England This isn t a book to read if you want to learn specific dates or facts, but it gives an idea of personalities, emotions, and the social day to day interactions of the courtesans and the ton Even though her facts aren t exact Hariette Wilson was there, she lived in those times, met those people, and experienced that life. It was surprising that this was written in the 19th century In many ways Harry Harriette seems so modern Her lack of interest in getting married and her firm belief that women should have the same rights to fun as men She isn t a prostitute She is what we would call a girlfriend She decided to write these memoirs as a way, since she was penniless, middle aged, and had been cheated out of her retirement money Before publishing, she offered all her ex boyfriends a chance to buy themselves out of her book I thought this showed class I did not take this as blackmail, as some people have I think she was only asking 200 which is very modest Sadly, we have no way of knowing who all bought themselves out of the book What is left though, was really good Harry isn t sleazy at all in her memoirs Her writing style is intimate, like sharing secrets with a friend She was a free spirit She did not choose her men strictly by money or looks or titles Once chosen, she was very faithful to them When marriage was offered, she always declined She said she liked her freedom too much She kept her boyfriends until they crossed the line by going to another woman or by not giving her money to live on, then she just moved on to someone else She liked good looking men, but liked them able to hold a conversation and make her laugh She abhorred stupid men She had a crazy sense of humor and was mischievous One time a guy in his 60 s wanted to meet her at a hotel She was only 18 So she sent her old nurse, who was in her 60 s, to meet the guy He must have been so embarrassed There were some descriptions of what life was like then traveling for instance and life with servants I would have liked details in certain aspects of her life, but as she says herself This is not a complete confession but merely a few anecdotes of my life and some light sketches of the characters of others, with little regard to dates or regularity, written at odd, in very ill health Anyone who wants to know what life was like in the 19th century for the popular people, the ton , I would highly recommend this book There is also a mini dossier in the back, a fascinating intro and sketches and cartoons included. Somewhat interesting from an historical viewpoint, only moderately interesting as a narrative although written well and charmingly Rich and famous men chase after Harriette and vice versa She likes some of her sisters and not the others Think Jane Austen with no plot and sex.Wilson s actual writing is a good example of the fact that a great deal of description or concrete imagery is not necessary to create interest The men and women here come alive with only a few deft words that is the real strength of the book, the people who inhabit it But with no particular point, it can become tedious after a while.More that anything else, I find this memoir an excellent source as a writer Not so much for the historical detail, though there is some of that, but for the characters and relationships Harriette s little observations and insights on personalities are invaluable There is plenty to steal As a look into a time, a way of life, and a rather interesting person, Harriette Wilson s memoir is worth reading and entertaining, as well. I don t know how or why I came into posession of this book I took a very long time reading it I kept it by my bed and would just read a page or two at night The story itself is charming and cute I love that period in history She is the most adorable little tart who always has a new drama to talk about. It s a shame Harriette Wilson wasn t discovered as a writer in her youth It was only when she became famous as a courtesan and published her memoirs that people seemed to care what she wrote Wilson s writing is witty and funny, although she is, I think, somewhat arrogant about her desirability among men My only hang up so to speak was her constant French conversations that she did not bother to translate I had this problem with the book, The Courtesans, as well Perhaps the authors assume that we, who wish to read about courtesans, can all read French In Harriette Wilson s defense, since she was living in 19th century England, she probably did believe that all her readers knew at least some French All and all, I found the book rather entertaining. I Shall Not Say Why And How I Became, At The Age Of Fifteen, The Mistress Of The Earl Of Craven Whether It Was Love, Or The Severity Of My Father, The Depravity Of My Own Heart, Or The Winning Arts Of The Noble Lord, Which Induced Me To Leave My Paternal Roof And Place Myself Under His Protection, Does Not Now Much Signify Or, If It Does, I Am Not In The Humour To Gratify Curiosity In This Matter I Resided On The Marine Parade At Brighton, And I Remember That Lord Craven Used To Draw Cocoa Trees, And His Fellows As He Called Them, On The Best Vellum Paper For My Amusement Here Stood The Enemy, He Would Say, And Here, My Love, Are My Fellows There The Cocoa Trees, C It Was, In Fact, A Dead Bore All These Cocoa Trees And Fellows, At Past Eleven O Clock At Night, Could Have No Peculiar Interest For A Child Like Myself, So Lately In The Habit Of Retiring Early To Rest One Night, I Recollect, I Fell Asleep And, As I Often Dream, I Said Yawning, And Half Awake, O Lord O Lord Craven Has Got Me Into The West Indies Again In Short I Soon Found That I Had Made But A Bad Speculation, By Going From My Father To Lord Craven I Was Even Afraid Of The Latter Than I Had Been Of The Former Not That There Was Any Particular Harm In The Man Beyond His Cocoa Trees But We Never Suited Nor Understood Each Other
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- 22 February 2018 Harriette Wilson