Can't quite decide between 3 & 4 stars. This tells the tale of Du Maurier's great great grandmother, Mary Anne Clarke, who was mistress to the Duke of York. She was then pivotal in the investigation into the sale of commissions that took place in the House of Commons. A novelised biography, the first sections chart her upbringing in London poverty, then her hasty marriage and subsequent struggles with a lacklustre drunk of a husband. This wasnlt the life she wanted when she was in poveryt, and so her ambition rises still further. She eventually leaves him and finds her way to be mistress of the Duke of York. And here, she does actually seem to be happy, although there are perenial money problems, which is, in part, leads her into the murky issue of selling commisions. She takes a sum of money to put a name forward for a comission or exchange within the armed forces, of which the Duke is Commander in Chief. It is illegal, but it's not exactly unusual at this time in history. It all then starts to go down hill after she ceases her relationship with the Duke. There are the debts, the inability to maintain the standard of living to which she'd become accustomed. This all leads her into increasingly desparate ways of extracting money from old acquaintances, including the writing of defamatory pamphlets. This ends with a court case and the ultimate downfall. It's an interesting sotry, although the sections leading up to her period as mistress are more interesting, surprising and enjoyable to read than the book thereafter. The fall is, in part, due to her own inability to compromise and moderate herself. She thinks she has been hard done by, and never blames herself for a single part of what happens to her. But she never makes any attempt to plan for the future - she always lives for the day. This has its consequences.