'Passionate and headstrong, Lady Idina was determined to be free even if the cost was scandal and ruin. Frances Osborne has brilliantly captured not only one woman's life but an entire lost society.' - Amanda Foreman.
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. Fifteen years earlier, as the First World War ended, Idina Sackville shocked high society by leaving her multimillionaire father to run off to Africa with a near penniless man.
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.
Truly interesting. Osborne paints an enthralling portrait of upper class English life just before, during and immediately after the Great War. Frivolous, rich, sexy, achingly fashionable... Frances Osborne has probably made her peace at last. - Robert McCrum, OBSERVER
Osborne is a graceful writer, excellent at evoking the atmosphere of London during the First World War and Happy Valley in the Twenties. Her judgement is pitch-perfect, never letting Idina off the hook but at the same time sympathetic towards her, and she skilfully captures the myriad twists and turns of a turbulent life. - Christopher Silvester, DAILY EXPRESS
Frances Osborne has produced a racy romp underpinned by some impressive research. She understands the period and the world she describes. - Selina Hastings, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
Osborne is an imaginative scene painter... Idina wasn t admirable, but Osborne makes us sympathise with her. - Marianne Brace, INDEPENDENT
An engaging book and a definitive final look back at those naughty people who, between the wars, took their bad behaviour off to Kenya and whose upper-class delinquency became gilded with unjustified glamour. - Alexandra Fuller, FINANCIAL TIMES