I purchased The Half Mad Lord off of Amazon after it was referenced in a book I had just finished called Madness, Betrayal, and the Lash. Boy, I’m glad I did!
An Honest Opinion:
I can’t even express how much I loved this book. It is exactly the type of book which completely sucks me in and sticks with me. Lord Camelford, less formally, Thomas Pitt, was a man of high social status in 18th Century England. He has a hot temper, but is generous and giving to the less fortunate. He was a man of great pride, who didn’t receive much love in his short lifetime.
In history, he’s known as the half-mad dueling lord; however, upon reading his tragic story, I feel that he is quite misread. He had a hard upbringing with no direction from his parents, he was misunderstood in his voyage with Captain George Vancouver, and although he made a few rash decisions, I don’t believe that he was a gun-wielding hot-head. In my opinion, he was a man of pride, and those who challenged his pride met with the only way he knew to settle the disagreement – through fighting or looking at his challenger from the other side of the barrel.
The biggest tragedy, which has me absolutely spinning, is his will. He set off for what would be his last duel, knowing he probably wasn’t going to be the victor, and made some requests for where he wished to be laid to rest. Due to his controversial relationship with France, his family denied his request, and now lays somewhere under a modern carpark. Cue Big Yellow Taxi by the Counting Crows…
“No sensible and well-informed man can presume to assert that Christianity is false; I do not yet venture to assert positively that it is true, but I confess the probabilities are in its favour.”
- Visit 148 Bond Street – now the Society of Fine Arts, previously residence of Lord Camelford
Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas – I was reading these books simultaneously – bad idea. The characters and story lines were quite similar and I had a hard time deciphering which story I was reading. It just happened to be a coincidence that I picked them both up during the same timeframe.
Phineas Finn by Anthony Trollope – Reference to Phineas Finn in The Half Mad Lord was made due to the similarity of the characters and their stories. Tolstoy made a solid case for this comparison, and now I can’t wait to read this book to see if I acquire the same conclusion.
Tolstoy, Nikolai. (1978). The Half-Mad Lord. New York, USA. Holt, Reinhart and Winston.