The Fall of the House of Byron: Scandal and Seduction in Georgian England
The luscious cover and tag-line give the impression that this is going to be an exciting popular-history read that will reveal to us what made Lord Byron tick, how his genetic make-up and the outrageous behaviour of his ancestors led to his own quirks and notoriety.
Set against the backdrop of the family seat, Newstead Abbey, and using the long-serving steward Joe Murray as a link through the generations, the book does accomplish this to some extent, but it also struggles with a non-linear narrative, changes in tense and impenetrable passages of text.
Noticeably lacking is a timeline of events with dates which is always helpful. (The uncorrected proof sent to this reviewer was also missing two further essential components – the family tree and index – thus it proved even more frustrating to give an objective opinion.)
There is no doubt that this expansive and admirable project will become a valuable asset to those studying the Byronic compendium at an academic level, but it lacks readability for a general audience. On the other hand, if adapted into a TV series it may well prove more entertaining.