The Lady in Red
Author: Hallie Rubenhold
Genre: Real People
What is a reputation worth? Once lost can it ever truly be recovered?
When Lady Seymour Worsley, an heiress in her own right, ran away with her lover her husband sued for damages. A high amount would bring the man to his knees which he considered fitting punishment for a wife stolen. Lady Worsley on the other hand had different ideas. See she was not fond of her husband in the least and if she had to destroy her reputation and expose their secrets in order to win she was going to do it. What resulted was a sensational trial that would have rivaled some of todays nastier divorces or celebrity sex tapes.
The marriage including multiple lovers on her part some of them spectacular arranged by him. They weren’t the only ones of the class to be behaving in that way as the book makes very clear. Seemingly everyone had a lover, or several. The thing that made the Worsley’s special was they exposed it all in a very large and very public trial.
I hate to say it but the details and the trial really are the most interesting parts of the book. Once upon a time I wanted to be a lawyer so I enjoy reading and hearing about old legal cases even if those laws are long gone. No one sues for criminal conversation anymore.
After the trial I found it pretty dry. The writing was good but it was still mostly a run down of what was known about the rest of their lives. There are a couple of interesting things. Lord Worsley and his lawyers literally blackmailed Lady Worsley into being trapped in France during the revolution but there’s not much known about her time there unfortunately.
I was up and down on the characters through the whole of the book. I started out liking them both and wondering how this was going to go so wrong. During the trial they’re amusing in the this- is- an- absolute- breakdown kind of way. But it’s really hard to like them overall. They were bitter, unhappy people and the damage they did to themselves an each other really would follow them for the rest of their lives. I wanted to like Lady Worsley especially- she was a product of her time and she definitely exposed the hypocrisy of the class and the system.
Mostly I just wound up feeling sorry for them. The Worsleys weren’t likable but they were incredibly painful human. The sadder thing is these days a scandal like that would barely make a drop in the bucket anymore.
Recommend- 50-50 on this one. This is going to be a movie with Natalie Dormer later in the summer on the BBC so if the subject matter sounds interesting to you but you aren’t sure you want to commit to the book you can always check that out.