Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Disastrous Mrs. Weldon

Georgina Weldon was born on the 18th birthday of the then Princess Victoria & her parents liked to believe that that fact made their baby's birthday auspicious--that little Georgina was destined for great things. Georgina agreed whole-heartedly with this assessment & spent her whole life scheming & planning for fame & fortune--& doing the wrong thing with every step she took.

Instead of making a good marriage that would ensure good marriages for her younger siblings, Georgina chose to marry a penniless soldier. She had a reasonably good voice but despite no voice training, she was sure stardom was in her future--kind of the Paris Hilton of the Victorian age, without the pedigree. Her affection for music led to a calamitous involvement with the composer Gounod & an ill-fated 'musical orphanage' in which children plucked off the streets were subjected to a health regimen of cold morning baths & no shoes, & taught to sing. Georgina took up with the villainous Angele & Anarcharsis Menier, who over the years encouraged her, but also swindled her. They were just a few of her poorly chosen cronies.

Georgina blundered through life, seeking fame but finding notoriety, picking up & discarding people & causes, always the center of her own universe. Brian Thompson's The Disastrous Mrs. Weldon presents her foibles with verve & humor, chronicling her affairs, her litigious nature (25 cases in court in one year), her two stays in prison, & her fight against being committed to a mental institution by her own husband in a way that will make you shake your head in disbelief & yet admire this Victorian eccentric's tenacity as she muddles through it all.

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