Monday, December 12, 2011

Book Review :: The Bolter by Frances Osbourne

The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The Woman Who Scandalised 1920s Society and Became White Mischief's Infamous SeductressThe Bolter: Idina Sackville - The Woman Who Scandalised 1920s Society and Became White Mischief's Infamous Seductress by Frances Osborne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really liked this book. My mum recommended I read it, I dismissed the idea but then got hooked on all things "between the wars" and read some reviews, remembered she had the book so started to read.

What a woman Idina was. Scandalising British upper class society with 5 marriages, she certainly led an "interesting" lifestyle. I can't imagine what her parties were like. Descriptions of them being cocaine and morphine induced, guests being greeted by a naked host and bathing in champagne are far beyond my sphere. It was the days of excess - well for those with land and privilege.

After Idina's first marriage and having had two children she disappears off to Kenya with new husband in tow. Sadly her two sons aren't allowed to join her and she doesn't see or contact them for another 15 years. Kenya is possibly the main focus of the story. To be honest I knew next to nothing about The Happy Valley set (I was more familiar with life in the Raj and Indian subcontinent where similarly the English upper class led a life of interesting times, in a similar time frame). It was quite illuminating to understand another aspect of British history. I also knew nothing of The White Mischief storyline and that fact that Joss was one of Idina's husbands. I will be reading The Temptress which describes in more detail some of the characters surrounding Joss and his murder. As the story progressed there were a number of sad incidents, not including her own demise. Quite tragic really.

Overall I suppose I like Idina. I think she had "balls" to break with convention. She might not have been party to women getting the vote, and I don't especially agree with her leaving her children as she did, but the "not giving a damn" attitude is kind of interesting.

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