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Publisher's Summary

Shortlisted for the British Book Awards, Richard & Judy Best Read, 2009.

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 his 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.

©2008 Frances Osborne (P)2009 Hachette Digital

Critic Reviews

"I've always wanted to know who the runaway mother in Nancy Mitford's classic novel The Pursuit of Love really was. Well, here she is unmasked at last. Indina Sackville..." ( The Guardian)

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Emma
  • 29-11-2009

Interesting listen

Not bad - I don't think the abridgement worked well as there seemed to be some gaps/jumps in the story. I didn't enjoy the readers voice so much - a bit flimsy for a book depicting such an adventurous charismatic woman.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 13-01-2018

Great book!

A great book. Such an interesting but sad life. I really enjoyed it being read to me too.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Caroline
  • 22-08-2011

Interesting but lacked emotional connection

It's actually a bit dull, which given the subject matter is surprising. Should have been very engaging, but was actually more like a documentary.

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