Spanning almost a century of the Georgian era, The Howe Dynasty presents a richly detailed and lively saga of one of its most distinguished families. Challenging and insightful, it reflects impressive scholarship, grounded in exhaustive archival research on both sides of the Atlantic. An especially valuable source is the correspondence that Caroline Howe maintained over more than 50 years of friendship with Lady Georgiana Spencer, mother of the celebrated leader of fashion, Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire. The Howe Dynasty shows how women whose supreme function in life was to produce male heirs could nonetheless find a voice through informal 'networking,' establishing crucial contacts in the drawing room or on the hunting field that could be mobilized to secure favors and control opinion.
... vivid and compelling ... Flavell offers many examples of how Caroline, the de facto leader of 10 siblings after first-born brother Scrope died in childhood, exerted her influence ... It is affecting to read of Caroline’s preoccupation with how the winds were blowing, so desperate was she to receive word of her beloved siblings in America ... Combining military analysis with an effective use of heretofore ignored sources, [Flavell] brings together the domestic sphere and the military sphere to form an original and more complete picture of a fascinating family.
... the Howe story is more compelling than the stupid redcoats caricature that has persisted for more than two centuries, as Julie Flavell demonstrates ... vibrant ... By widening her lens to include various Howe women — usually considered bit players, if not nonentities, in military histories — Flavell illuminates not only Britain at war, but also the larger world of 18th-century Georgian culture that provides war’s backdrop. She tells her story well, with thorough documentation, providing context and insight into how Britain blundered so badly, and then recovered from those blunders ... The Howes have long been opaque and even inscrutable. Flavell’s scholarship and deft storytelling add nuance, sympathy and granularity to the family portrait.
Full of detail and intrigue, the narrative is illustrated with vivid portraits of extended family members and maps of military engagements ... This engaging popular history stands apart for its different perspective of the British side of the American Revolution and the Howe family’s involvement in peace efforts.
In this brilliantly conceived and vividly written biography, historian Flavell (When London Was Capital of America) takes a fresh look at the family of Richard Admiral Lord Howe and Gen. William Howe ... Analyzing letters and diaries left behind by the women of the family, Flavell upends the popular conception of the aristocratic Howes as 'inscrutable' and sheds light on the drawing-room politics of Georgian England ... Flavell skillfully alternates vivid descriptions of overseas battles with developments in England ... History buffs won’t want to miss this richly textured account.
Historian Flavell reappraises the careers of two maligned British commanders in the Revolutionary War and shows how female relatives tried to burnish the men’s reputations ... The author offers much for historians to argue about and plenty for patient readers to enjoy. An intelligent, sympathetic portrait that challenges popular views of the Howe family.