Paperbacks: The Scandal Of The Season, by Sophie Gee

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The Independent Culture

In 1711, Lord Petre violated his mistress, Arabella Fermoy, by cutting off a hank of her hair at a party. This impromptu scissoring inspired Alexander Pope's mock-heroic poem "The Rape of the Lock". In her enlightening debut novel, Gee recreates the intrigue surrounding the incident, fleshing out Pope's involvement and his efforts to win his way into the hearts and drawing rooms of these young toffs. From fashionable dinner menus ("a fricasse of lamb, a dish of peas and a sallet of herbs") to the elaborate language of courtship, Gee unobtrusively shares her deep knowledge of the period, and whenever possible uses Pope's original words.