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Praise for the Profligate Son
“The dangers of a profligate son is a persistent theme in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century British literature, and it was also a very real fear among the upper echelon of British families…an absorbing case study…Phillips eloquently fills out the bare bones of the known facts of the story.”
“This is an engrossing tale of a Regency rake’s fast times and tragic unraveling that vivifies the history of Georgian England and colonial Sydney, Australia.”
“An immensely readable work of literary depths.”
“A gripping story of privilege and power, ungrateful sons and disappointed fathers in Regency England. Phillips brings the period to life with great authority and also sets the history in a thoughtful, modern context. A very enjoyable read.”
—Kate Mosse, author of the Languedoc Trilogy
“Nicola Phillips has given us a compulsively readable story of a young man of good family who went dramatically astray in the fleshpots and gambling houses of Regency England. The book brings to life the glitter, the tawdriness, the promise and the heartbreak of the times in a way that few more conventional histories have done. At the same time it is a perceptive study of two flawed, headstrong men who had the signal misfortune to be father and son.”
—Margaret R. Hunt, Professor of History and Women’s and Gender Studies, Amherst College
“The Profligate Son held me spellbound from start to finish. Nicola Phillips brings the seamy side of Regency England to life with remarkable clarity, and her anti-hero William Jackson’s headlong descent into a hell of his own making is so vivid and so foolhardy that more than once I wanted to reach into the book and shake some sense into him. A compelling read.”
—Adrian Tinniswood, author of The Verneys: A True Story of Love, War, and Madness in Seventeenth-Century England and The Rainborowes: One Family’s Quest to Build a New England
Queen Bee of Tuscany:
The Redoubtable Janet Ross
Review from Publisher's Weekly
Star-studded with dignitaries, nobles, literati, and other famous folk of the Victorian age, poet Downing’s (The Calligraphy Shop) nonfiction debut tells the fascinating larger-than-life story of Janet Ross. Born and raised amongst the intellectual set in England, Ross left as soon as she was able—to live first in Egypt, and then in Florence, where she joined an already settled colony of émigrés and set about bucking every convention of her time. Henry James described her as “an odd mixture of the British female and the dangerous woman—a Bohemian with rules and accounts.” An avid horsewoman with few maternal instincts, Ross freely spoke her mind, wrote several books, managed her own estate, and even made and marketed her own vermouth. She seemed to know or be connected to everyone—at one of her birthday parties, she hosted William Makepeace Thackeray, feminist Caroline Norton, playwright Tom Taylor, and Whig statesmen Lord Lansdowne... those enamored with the history, society, and culture of Victorian England and the expatriate community will relish this engrossing biography. )
Ben Downing. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (352p) ISBN 978-0-37423-971-8
“Give Me Everything You Have is a reminder, if any were needed, of how easily, since the arrival of the Internet, our peace can be troubled and our good name besmirched by the actions of some or other crazy stranger.”
—J.M. Coetzee, Nobel Prize-winning author of Diary of a Bad Year