The Scandal of the Season

A Novel

The Scandal of the Season

London, 1711. As the rich, young offspring of the city's most fashionable families þll their days with masquerade balls and clandestine court-ships, Arabella Fermor and Robert, Lord Petre, lead the pursuit of pleasure. Beautiful and vain, Arabella is a clever coquette with a large circle of beaus. Lord Petre, seventh Baron of Ingatestone, is a man-about-town with his choice of mistresses. Drawn together by an overpowering attraction, the two begin an illicit affair.

Alexander Pope, sickly and nearly penniless, is peripheral by birth, yet his uncommon wit and ambition gain him unlikely entrance into high society. Once there, privy to every nuance and drama, he is a ruthless observer. He longs for the success that will cement his place in society; all he needs is one poem grand enough to make his reputation.

As the forbidden passion between Arabella and Lord Petre deepens, an intrigue of a darker nature threatens to overtake them. Fortunes change and reputations -- even lives -- are imperiled. In the aftermath, Pope discovers the idea for a daring poem that will catapult him to fame and fortune.
  • Scribner | 
  • 384 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416540571 | 
  • August 2008
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Reading Group Guide

The Scandal of the Season by Sophie Gee
London, 1711. Renowned beauty Arabella Fermor leads a lively life with masquerade balls, opera engagements, and social engagements filling her every day. Though she enjoys the attentions of a large circle of suitors, she fancies none of them...until she meets the strikingly handsome Robert, Lord Petre, the seventh Baron of Ingatestone, and embarks upon a forbidden affair that threatens to destroy reputations, fortunes -- even lives. As their affair and the political events of the era unfold, the young, penniless poet Alexander Pope observes the workings of high society from his spot on the periphery, using his wit to transform Arabella and Lord Petre's affair into the literary sensation of the era and gaining entrance to a world formerly closed to him. Based upon true events, The Scandal of the Season vividly brings to life the forbidden passions of key historical figures and political intrigues that inspired Alexander Pope's poem, "The Rape of the Lock," one of the most important literary works in history.
Discussion Questions
1. Two mysterious figures abduct and murder a priest in the prologue of The Scandal of the Season. Before he dies, the priest says, "You are too late. Others already know." To what is he referring? Who were the Jacobites and what was their mission? How does their mission affect the lives of the characters in The Scandal of the Season?
2. Describe Alexander Po see more

About the Author

Sophie Gee
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Sophie Gee

Sophie Gee grew up in Sydney, Australia, and completed a PhD in English at Harvard in 2002. She is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Princeton. She was recently named the John E. Annan Bicentennial Preceptor, in recognition of her outstanding teaching and research as a member of Princeton's junior faculty. She divides her time between Princeton and New York. Please visit