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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful insight into an amazing family, 10 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Lantern Slides: The Diaries and Letters of Violet Bonham Carter, 1904-1914 (Hardcover)
Lady Violet Bonham Carter was the eldest daughter of Herbert Henry Asquith, one of the giants of the Liberal party, and the last real Liberal Prime Minister (Lloyd George led a coalition government while not being leader of the Liberal party). She was a brilliant orator and distinguished writer and politician, arguably the keeper of the Liberal flame through the party's most difficult years.

Violet was not Asquith's only offspring. Her eldest brother was the brilliant Raymond Asquith, and her other siblings were the war hero Arthur "Oc" Asquith, Herbert "Beb" Asquith, and Cyrill "Cys" Asquith, all the offspring of Helen Kesall Melland, Asquith's first wife, who died just as her husband was beginning her ascent of British politics.
While she revered her father, Violet's relationship with her step-mother, the larger than life Margot, was strained and it shows in these diaries.

Of course, other luminaries are to be found here; Winston Churchill, Edward Grey, Edward VII, George V, Teddy Roosevelt, the Tennants and Horners, and many, many more. On top of that there are the many political crises Asquith experienced. We see, through Violet's eyes, her father's moving into Number 10, the People's Budget and the ensuing constitutional crisis, the Marconi scandal, and of course the suffragettes (Violet, ironically) opposed

She describes "coming out" (a season when girls would go to dances and balls), with some very amusing descriptions of the dances and dance of social interaction. I love her word "drumbores" to describe a particular type of person one encounters at parties. Even though most of this was written over a century ago, there are many moments where timeless experiences are described.

Violet's writing is often beautiful, very descriptive, and very perceptive. She is never boring, and her correspondences, most notably with the poet Rupert Brooke, make for fascinating reading. She falls in love with Archie Gordon, only for him to die as the result of a car accident. After this, she grieves for him and sets up a boys club for poor children in his honour. Violet's genuine compassion for the most vulnerable in society is very apparent and admirable.

This book conveys the final years of Edwardian Britain, and as such the ominous clouds gather as the book draws to a close in the late summer of 1914...the First World War would shatter Violet's world.

Edited by the late Mark Bonham Carter (Violet's eldest son) and Mark Pottle, with a superb introduction by the much missed Roy Jenkins, I recommend this book to anyone interested in early 20th century histroy.

A little bit of trivia: This book was dramatized into a superb 30 minute radio play in 1998, in which Violet was played by her grand-daughter, Helena.
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Lantern Slides: The Diaries and Letters of Violet Bonham Carter, 1904-1914
Lantern Slides: The Diaries and Letters of Violet Bonham Carter, 1904-1914 by Violet Bonham Carter (Hardcover - 13 May 1996)
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