But Stoney was Bold

Deborah Friedell

  • Wedlock by Wendy Moore
    Weidenfeld, 359 pp, £18.99, January 2009, ISBN 978 0 297 85331 2

Things to read when you’re between boyfriends and being on your own is making you miserable: The Trials of Claus von Bülow, When Husbands Come Out of the Closet, Romola, Hard Times. Wendy Moore’s history of Mary Eleanor Bowes, Countess of Strathmore, might not have been written to make lonelyhearts feel better, but its purpose would otherwise be obscure. The countess was as unimportant as she was wealthy, and though her divorce was granted at a time when divorces were rare, there was little legally significant about it. Moore dedicates the book to her parents ‘in celebration of more than 50 years of marital harmony’, but what follows is a survivor story: what does it signify if you haven’t got a man, so long as you don’t marry a sociopath?

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