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

The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The Woman Who Scandalised 1920s Society and Became White Mischief's Infamous Seductress [Kindle Edition]

Frances Osborne
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)

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Product Description


** 'The Bolter is a biographical treat' Kerry Fowler, GOOD HOUSEKEEPINGAn 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 ** 'A superb portrait of an astonishing woman and her times.' WBQ

Julian Fellowes

'Rich, titled, witty, beguiling, Lady Idina Sackville had all the gifts, except, perhaps, judgement. Frances Osborne has written an enthralling account of a dazzling, troubled, life'

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 533 KB
  • Print Length: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (5 Feb 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002S0KB2C
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #44,958 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Frances Osborne ( is the author of two biographies, Lilla's Feast, and The Bolter, which was an international bestseller and is now being developed into a mini-series. Her new book, a novel, Park Lane, is set in the same, Edwardian, period and is published in the UK and US in June 2012.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Biography of a Misunderstood Woman 27 Feb 2009
By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Well I won't hold back on this... I loved this book. However I can understand why some people out there might not like it so much, but more of that later. The Bolter can be summed up pretty much by its full title `The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The Woman Who Scandalized 1920's Society and Became White Mischief's Infamous Seductress'. This book promises to be full of gossip and scandal whilst taking a look at just what was going on in the rich upper classes in the 1920's and 1930's. It does exactly what it promises on that front with some very insightful tales even of royalty. It also lifts the lid further on `The Happy Valley' (which I had no knowledge of prior to this book - but I have been looking up on the web like mad) in Africa where bed hopping, drug taking, suicide and murder along with attempted murder all took place.

These things were great, Frances Osborne makes a lot of affairs and bed hopping very easy to keep up with and digest. She also brings in some really interesting social history such as what could and couldn't constitute the rights for divorce and what counted as adultery. She looked at the women suffragettes which were something that Idina and her mother Muriel were very much involved with. It also looks at how war affected people not just in terms of rations but in terms of love and affairs of the heart. All this was wonderfully written and all over too quickly. However for me it was the background on Idina herself along with her childhood, parents and the society she grew up in and how they made her into the character which she became that I found so fascinating.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Scandalous tale 8 Jun 2009
By Squish
I did not think I would enjoy this book as I had to read it for my book club. But the more I read the more I liked it.
Its the tale of a woman during the first world war and after. Her life seems to be fairly normal but then she becomes a scarlet woman after she bolts from her first marriage.
She runs away from her first marriage and sets off on a life of debauchery and many more marriages. But she pays a heavy personal price for that life.
Set in both England and Kenya among the upper classes who did not need to work, they just partied and had fun.
That fun often went way beyond what was accpetable and the life of Idina Sackville is a glimpse into a world I had no idea existed.
This is well worth the read and all the more riveting because it opens a door into a completely different world.
At the end of the book you can decide whethe r she was pushed into that life by circumstance or whether she was never the sort to settle quietly into the role of a good wife.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different generation 19 April 2009
By Denise hale VINE VOICE
I brought this book having seen "White Mischief" and being fascinated by that period. Apart from knowing of "The Bolter" through the Mitford book "Love in a cold climate" (which I recall more from the televised version in '80's) I knew nothing of Idina.
I was a bit concerned that as the author was her great-grand daughter she would either try to whitewash Idina's behaviour or embelish it for greater effect. In fact she did neither, instead she sought to understand her but in doing so encountered the fact that the morals of the day were more difficult and more complex than today's society. Whilst Idina married her first husband for love she had to accept that he would bed other women, so she worked hard to hold his interest without being critical of his behaviour. Nowadays, I doubt if any sector of society would readily accept that level of infidelity almost from the start of a marriage. Idina also signed the equivalent of a pre-nup agreement so leaving her extremely wealthly husband could not have been an easy decision. Add to this the fact she left her very young children and agreed to her husband not to see them again, even through she was their main carer and he had hardly seen them in the previous year. All in all Idina's decision does seem very reckless, thus the author's seeks not only to find out why but to explain it to us. Of course after the decision was made Idiana had to live with the consequences and the fact that she was now of great interest to the world media. Unlike today Idina did not have a publicist to handle things for her and her decision to exile herself to Kenya may have been partly to remove herself from this media interest.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A silly woman, no doubt - but a great read 23 May 2008
By helen
I cannot help thinking that Idina "The Bolter" was not very interesting as a person. Her actions often seem so mindless, ill-thought through or simply horrible - like leaving her two young children behind to run off with some chap. Also, she doesn't really come through as a proper person, the occasional soundbites ("Simply heaven, darling") are hardly the sort of stuff to make her real and complex. But despite all that, I still enjoyed the book very much. It provides a unique insight into an era where people were totally and utterly different from today. Their daring, their irresponsibility, their disregard for their own well-being often leaves one gasping. I think Frances Osborne managed to paint a vivid picture of an era, even though the main character, Idina, remains opaque. And maybe that's not such a bad thing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bolter
I enjoyed the book,I had not read of the aristocracy before and found it very revealing.Idina was a very special
Lady(if you can call her a Lady).
Published 3 months ago by Laurence Challis
4.0 out of 5 stars Idina
A good read and as I had met the lady in question it was enlightening to read about her life.
Published 4 months ago by Barbara Slade
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read book
Brilliant book. Shows an insight into life of the wealthy in UK around the time of World War 1. Thoroughly enjoying it.
Published 4 months ago by mrs l hardy
5.0 out of 5 stars I couldn't put it down
Great read and insight into the lives of Happy Valley, 1920's society and Idina Sackville. I wished I met her!
Published 4 months ago by Sean Mccann
5.0 out of 5 stars A terrific read
I find the the people in this era absolutely fascinating,; if the book had included more reference to the year in question it might have been helpful. Read more
Published 4 months ago by alanlocoman
5.0 out of 5 stars INFAMOUS MOTHER
Published 5 months ago by popeye
2.0 out of 5 stars Subject more interesting than the prose.
This book is easy enough to read - in fact, I found myself continually trying to speed up in an attempt to end the ordeal as soon as possible. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Julie D
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bolter
An excellent book by Frances Osborne covering the unusual and infamous life of Idina Sackville that continued to her death.
Published 5 months ago by Edwin Underhill
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating insight into 1920's life in Africa
Interesting insights into an old fashioned era where one assumes everyone is better behaved than in the current day! But what a naughty saucy bunch of people! Read more
Published 5 months ago by A.E.H
5.0 out of 5 stars a terrific spectrum
What a biography! It transported me into a world of opulence, decadence, indulgence and into the sadness hidden behind many of those facades. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Scribe Dublin
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