Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Book Review - The Bolter

Synopsis (from the book jacket)

On Friday 25th May, 1934, a forty-one-year-old woman walked into the lobby of Claridge's Hotel to meet the nineteen-year-old son whose face she did not know.  Just over fifteen years earlier, as the First World War ended, Idina Sackville  had shocked high society by leaving his multimillionaire father to run off to Africa with a near penniless man. Now, three more husbands later, she was back to help the son whom she had been banned from seeing. 

An inspiration for Nancy Mitford's character The Bolter, painted by William Orpen, and photographed by Cecil Beaton, Sackville went on to divorce a total of five times, yet died with a picture of her first love by her bed. Her struggle to reinvent her life with each new marriage left one husband murdered and branded her the 'high priestess' of White Mischief's bed-hopping Happy Valley in Kenya. Sackville's life was so scandalous that it was kept a secret from her great-granddaughter Frances Osborne. Now, Osborne tells the moving tale of betrayal and heartbreak behind Sackville's road to scandal and return, painting a dazzling portrait of high society in the early twentieth century.

I found this a very easy book to read, which was a great surprise because I don't usually read biographies because I find them hard to get into. I found the time period fascinating & I had always thought that they were prim & proper but it would appear that there was an unspoken rule that an affair within a marriage was acceptable as long as it was with another married woman. 

I found myself feeling sadened for Idina that her first husband chose to take that course of action & that really the rest of her life was left trying to find love & inevitably never really finding it. I did feel very sorry for the children of all the different marriages & I can understand why they tried to keep Idina from being mentioned a lot within the family.  I think they never really understood her, & how could they when she was never around for them. 

It was a really interesting read & I ended up thinking that really in some aspects our society is not as bad as we think, it is just it is discussed more these days than it was back in Edwardian England.


Mel said...

Loved reading your review - I am still waiting for the book from the library so I fear I will fail in reading this month's book on time (I have read the March book but will wait til then to post my review!). I like reading books like this that I might otherwise have passed by. I'm looking forward to finally reading this one now I've seen your review.

Penny said...

still waiting for the book here!