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The bolter
Frances Osborne
Adult Nonfiction CT788.S118 O83 2008

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Osborne's lively narrative brings Lady Idina Sackville (an inspiration for Nancy Mitford's character the Bolter) boldly to life, with a black lapdog named Satan at her side and a cigarette in her hand. Osborne (Lilla's Feast) portrays a desperately lonely woman who shocked Edwardian high society with relentless affairs and drug-fueled orgies. Idina's story unfolds in an intimate tone thanks to the author, her great-granddaughter, who only accidentally discovered the kinship in her youth with the media serialization of James Fox's White Mischief. Osborne makes generous use of sources and private family photos to add immediacy and depth to the portrait of a woman most often remembered as an amoral five-time divorcee: the author shows her hidden kindnesses at her carefully preserved Kenyan cattle ranch-a refuge from the later destructive Kenyan massacres. Still, Osborne unflinchingly exposes Idina's flaws-along with those of everyone else in the politely adulterous high society-while ably couching them in the context of the tumultuous times in which Idina resolved to find happiness in all the wrong places. The text, most lyrical when describing the landscapes around Idina's African residences, proves that an adventurous spirit continues to run in this fascinating family. 66 photos, (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Lady Idina Sackville must be among the last of the titled and scandalous Brits of the post-World War I era whose lives have not yet been recorded in biography. Osborne, her great-granddaughter, has filled that small gap with this gossipy story, which takes its name from a sad minor character that novelist Nancy Mitford is said to have modeled on Idina in The Pursuit of Love. The Mitford connection is pretty much it for a claim to fame. In 1919 Idina deserted a fabulously wealthy husband and two toddlers to marry a lover and buy a farm in her beloved Kenya, where she turned up again (and usually built another house) with each of her subsequent three husbands. Osborne recounts with gusto the byzantine sexploits of Idina, her husbands, and their many houseguests. She claims that Idina also served as the model for the vamp heroine of Michael Arlen's sensational 1920s best seller The Green Hat. Verdict This is not a work of great depth; typical of the haphazard construction of the book, Osborne forgets to tell us if either Mitford or Arlen actually knew Idina. Still, those who enjoy stories (fiction or nonfiction) of the past's oversexed and idle rich (and there are lots of these readers) will love this book.-Stewart Desmond, New York City (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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