Some readers have asked for a reader's guide to use as discussion points in their reading groups, so as there was no space to include one in the book itself, I've put one here for anyone to print off if interested.
1. It must have been devastating for Dora when her father deserted the family and then died so young. How do you think that affected her outlook and behaviour in her future life?
2. Her mother Grace positively pushed her on to the stage at a very young age. Since actresses were so ill-thought of at the time, was this a good idea? Do you think she saw talent in her daughter, or was she only concerned with the money Dora might earn for the family?
3. Dora was abused by Daly, and naïvely believed in Ford’s promise that he would one day propose. Was this because she craved love or simply longed for respectability? Was it wise of her to become the Duke mistress and give up all hope of marriage after these disappointments? And did she gain sufficient protection for herself? Would you have handled things differently?
4. Do you think the Duke of Clarence genuinely loved her, or was he tempted by her ‘celebrity’ and the money she could earn? There was much ribald comment about whether he kept her or she kept him. What do you think?
5. Dora Jordan proved herself to be a talented actress with a popular following, and she certainly knew how to fight her corner when under attack from jealous colleagues, or the press. Did you admire her efforts at standing up for herself so fiercely by writing a response, and in speaking directly to her audience, or do you think this made matters worse? How would the press and public view this feisty side to her character? Have you ever had the need to make a stand against unfair accusations?
6. The Duke was a kind and caring lover, but how do you see him as a person? Was he a weak man, or genuinely obsessed with a sense of duty? What is your opinion of his closeness to his brother George? Was the Prince of Wales’s influence a good or a bad thing? And was it William’s own fault that he couldn’t find himself a role in society?
7. Why do you think he finally decided to leave Dora? Was it a sense of duty, ambition, a need to settle his debts, or perhaps influence from his mother, Queen Charlotte. Were you angry with him on Dora’s behalf? And how do you think his decision affected their children? Do children of divorced parents today suffer similar problems?
8. Dora had a difficult relationship with her eldest daughter, Fanny. Why do you think that was, and how could it have been improved? Are mother and daughter relationships always a problem in some way, or just go through difficult phases?
9. Dora was ever a soft touch where her family were concerned, even to her own detriment. Were there occasions when you thought her decision to help was the wrong one? Or was she behaving like any loving mother would? How much would you be prepared to sacrifice for your own family? Would it make a difference to your attitude if they were adults themselves?
10. Dora Jordan’s end was a shameful tragedy, and she has never been properly honoured as other British artists have been. Who do you blame? Was she, in the end, the author of her own misfortunes, or do you believe she was manipulated by the Duke’s advisers? If so, could she have done anything to save herself? What would you have done in such circumstances? And did William genuinely mourn her loss?
Review from Library Journal
Set against the backdrop of Georgian and Regency England, this historical novel by a prolific author (The Queen and the Courtesan; Reluctant Queen) describes the life of Dorothy Jordan (1761–1816). It is no surprise that Jordan, born into a theatrical family, took up the life herself. What is perhaps surprising is that she captured the heart of a prince, the Duke of Clarence, and lived with him as though married for 20 years, bearing him ten children. When the Duke left her to marry, he provided a stipend for her so long as she stayed off the stage. Ultimately Jordan returned to the theater to help her eldest daughter, though it meant losing her income from the stipend as well as custody of the daughters she had with the prince. She died alone and in poverty, while her former lover went on to become King William IV. VERDICT Lightfoot’s title, written much in the style of Jean Plaidy, is well paced, and plausible in following Dorothy’s early life, about which little is known. Readers of Regencies will enjoy this, as will fans of Jean Plaidy’s work.
Hardcover ISBN 978-0727882462
Kindle Edition 1 March
Paperback 30 June