Margaret Lucas Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1623–1673) was one of the most interesting women of the Stuart era. She was a philosopher, the author of The Blazing World, and was the first woman to attend a Royal Society meeting. No wonder such a figure ignited the imagination of author Danielle Dutton in her work, Margaret the First.
I found the book to be a quirky, stream-of-consciousness kind of experience, which is very appropriate (in my opinion) for someone like Margaret. I read it in ebook form and I rather think I ought to have read it in hardcopy form as I believe it probably would have been more suited to that form.
Dutton clearly did some research for this book, but I was a little disappointed with one tiny detail which leapt out at me:
Margaret is stewarded to the queen’s reception rooms, where Queen Catherine sits surrounded by her Spanish ladies and several snoring hounds.
OK, but Catherine of Braganza was Portuguese and had Portuguese ladies, not Spanish ladies. Pardoning that brief pedanticism, I enjoyed the rest even though it did take me an unconscionably long two years to read it! Oddly enough, even though I read it in bits and pieces, I still remembered it well, which is a testament to the author’s talent, I think.
This book was my pick for the Stuart-Era Book Club, but I just ran out of time, so I apologise for this. There wasn’t a great deal of interaction on Facebook and Twitter about the book club anyway (sadly! The Tudor book clubs are so much more active) so perhaps we’ll leave it at that. Please feel free to discuss the book below in the comments!