By Karen Leigh
Updated June 08, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Long before Princess Diana, another member of the Spencer clan lived a whirlwind life of high fashion, marital indiscretion, and harsh media attention, so tells Janet Gleeson in Privilege and Scandal. Whether hobnobbing with her pal, the Prince of Wales, sparring with Lord Byron, or watching from the Palais du Louvre as Napoleon rallied his troops, aristocrat Harriet Spencer had a first-hand view of the turmoil gripping late-18th-century Europe. Likewise, tragedy marked her life: a beloved sister’s death, her first husband’s huge gambling debts, and a mysterious illness that left her wheelchair-bound. At its heady best, Gleeson’s page-turner reads like a frothy romance. A-

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