The Lady in Red: An Eighteenth-Century Tale of Sex, Scandal, and Divorce

by Hallie Rubenhold

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Crim. Con. was an expression used in at least one of [author:Georgette Heyer|18067]’s novels.

I’ve now found out more than I ever thought I would have wanted to know about what that slightly odd expression means. (it is an abbreviation of Criminal Conversations.)

Look at these sumptuous Sir Joshua Reynolds portraits.

Lady Worsley

In Public Domain

Her portrait had her dressed to match her husband, Sir Richard Worsley. His likeness was taken a few years earlier.

In Public Domain

Unfortunately, the Worsleys weren’t married long enough for the portraits to ever hang together.

Worsley, monied himself, wanted a wealthy wife. Seymour (yes, that was Lady Worsley’s christian name) was very young, frivolous, fun loving and wanted a normal sex life. That was never going to happen with her hubby. To put it mildly, he was a very strange lad indeed.

Not withstanding this, the couple rubbed along quite happily in a ménage à trois with their mutual friend George Bisset. Seymour’s second child was fathered by Bisset, but Worsley acknowledged the little girl as his own. But George & Seymour fell in love, circumstances changed where they could no longer live together and they decided to elope.

And that is where the happy part of the story ended, as it turned out that in spite of his unconventional life style, Richard Worsley put a very high value on the proprieties being observed and showed his true colours as a miserly, vindictive man. To modern eyes, George Bisset was no prize either. he eventually desserts Seymour when Worley would only give Seymour a separation, not a divorce.But just as I was preparing to be thoroughly depressed by another story on how unfair history was to women Seymour fought back – & wouldn’t back down.

I’d say that Seymour was ahead of her time, but Ms Rubenhold mentions quite a few of Seymour’s friends that were also very wild. Georgette Heyer’s world this is not!

I wouldn’t describe Seymour’s life story as a totally happy one, (Sir Richard was determined to have her live in poverty, she was separated from her children & possibly was imprisioned during the French Revolution) but it was certainly more exciting than her mean spirited ex! Sir Richard ended up a recluse.

Ms Rubenhold does a great job with this story, even though almost no correspondence from Seymour survives. She rarely resorts to speculation. There were a couple of minor editing errors, but overall this story was a riot and I am glad to have read it.

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