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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Scandalous tale
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...
Published on 8 Jun 2009 by Amazon Customer

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different generation
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...
Published on 19 April 2009 by Denise hale


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Scandalous tale, 8 Jun 2009
This review is from: The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The woman who scandalised 1920s Society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress (Paperback)
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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73 of 77 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 "Simon" (Manchester, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The woman who scandalised 1920s Society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress (Paperback)
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.

Yes she was a sexual predator in some ways, no she couldn't be faithful, married and divorced five times, loved to party and left her sons and husband but deep down her story is of struggle and tragedy and how people react to that. Plus she in historical terms as Frances (who is her great-granddaughter) finds, from her family alone regardless of society back in the day, is blamed for this and getting the real insight your opinion is changed. Her first marriage to her true love wasn't a happy one after the war and he ended up marrying his sister's best friend Barbie. Some of the names in this book are wonderful. If all the things that happened to her happened to most people they would have given up aged about 21. However Idina is incredibly strong and fights and pushes to get what she wants which you believe is actually a quite settled life just with lots of sex.

This book also did something that very few books tend to do nowadays (unless I am having trouble keeping up) which is to make notes. There are some wonderful quotes such as when Idina describes why she married one of her husbands `he had broad shoulders, a long attention span and an endless supply of handkerchiefs' and facts that I felt I wanted to chase up and learn more about. I also laughed and smiled quite a lot too thinking that anyone who loves the words and works of Nancy Mitford would be right at home with this. It does appear she very much borrowed from Idina and her real story for her own fiction. I also actually felt very solemn when the book ended and quite moved.

All in all a marvellous book which I would recommend to Mitford fans and particularly people who wouldn't normally pick up a non fiction novel
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A different generation, 19 April 2009
By 
Denise hale (CHELTENHAM, Glos United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The woman who scandalised 1920s Society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress (Paperback)
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. The fact that at no stage does she appear to consider amending her sexual behaviour reflects its acceptability within the crowd she inhabited and her own belief in herself.
Part of me admires Idiana's strength, but I wonder whether it comes from being afraid of showing her own weaknesses, especially if she was still in love with her first husband when she left him.
Whatever your reason her buying this book you will find Idina's life story to be an interesting one. She had too much style to be deemed "a ladette of her day" but maybe, but by not being willing to let men have it all their own way, she could be viewed as a feminist.
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39 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A silly woman, no doubt - but a great read, 23 May 2008
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Bolter, 5 Jan 2013
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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The author of this book disovered purely by chance that she was related to Idina Sackville, a woman who spent much of her life involved in, and causing, scandal. Thankfully, she decided to try to discover more about her and this is the result, a sympathetic but honest appraisal of her life from Edwardian London to Happy Valley in Kenya. Idina was herself the child of divorced parents, who had an unconventional mother and found herself frowned upon as a suitable bride when she became a debutante. However, glamorous and outgoing, she made an impressive match when she married the incredibly rich and handsome Euan Wallace. Their early married life was interrupted by the First World War and, as children came and they were separated by events and change, it affected them. Idina was unwilling to put up with Euan's affairs and the marriage could not be saved.

In hindsight, it is easy to see where, and how, things go wrong. This divorce was shocking at a time when marriages between members of the aristocracy had different boundaries. Affairs were commonplace, but divorce was not. When Idina walked away from her marriage she had to leave behind her two sons. What follows are the stories of four more marriages. Charles Gordon, Josslyn Hay (infamously murdered in Kenya), Donald Haldeman and Vincent Soltan. Gossip surrounded Idina, with rumours of scandalous behaviour at the beautiful homes she created in Kenya. Much of what happened seems shocking, even today, with you feeling pity - not only for Idina herself, who seemed to need somebody to cling to in order to prove her attraction - but also for her children. This is a moving, and often tragic, account of a life - however, it was certainly a life lived to the full. Lastly, I read the kindle version of this book and it contained no illustrations.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "It doesn't matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don't do it in the street and frighten the horses.", 14 July 2012
By 
Mary Whipple (New England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The woman who scandalised 1920s Society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress (Paperback)
Using documents and photographs that have never before been available, along with private diaries and interviews with some of those who knew Idina Sackville, author Frances Osborne creates a lively, readable, and well researched biography which attempts to understand what aspects of Idina Sackville's early family life might have helped create a person so flamboyant, sexually adventurous, and hedonistic that she became world famous. For over thirty years, Idina Sackville had done exactly what she wanted, becoming famous on three continents for her outrageous sexual exploits, her nudity at parties, the bed-hopping games she invented for house parties, her drinking, and even her occasional experimentation with drugs. Her friends, especially in Kenya's Happy Valley, equally amoral, participated in several shootings or attempted shootings, the highly publicized murder of one of Idina's ex-husbands, the subsequent trial for that murder involving another member of Happy Valley, several suicides, and cases of drug addiction, one of them leading to death.

Beginning with Idina's earliest background, the author, Idina's great-granddaughter, explores the family history. Idina's father, Gilbert Sackville, the 8th Earl of De La Warr, possessed an eight hundred-year-old title but very little income. Her mother, Muriel Brassey, was the non-aristocratic granddaughter of an unbelievably successful man of trade. After a few years of marriage, when Muriel tired of paying for her husband's indiscretions, however, she shocked society by suing for divorce, almost unheard of among the aristocracy. This, combined with her involvement in socialist causes and the suffrage movement further alienated her from "polite" society and tainted the futures of her children. The author believes that this had a major impact on the future course of Idina's life.

Marriages among the aristocracy were frequently marriages of convenience, allowing both husbands and wives to take lovers, often from among their married friends. Married lovers, unlike lovers who were single, did not expect to divorce their husbands and marry their lovers, thereby preserving everyone's family assets - and if a pregnancy resulted, the child could be incorporated into the woman's already existing family. When Idina eventually met and married a wealthy, and titled, young Calvary officer, David Euan Wallace, as much of a party animal as she was, World War I intervened. Eventually, she divorced him to escape to Kenya with someone else, forced to leave her two young sons behind, though she claimed to her dying day that she loved Euan. Eventually, she would have four more marriages and divorces and would become the "undisputed Queen of Happy Valley" in Kenya, her bed referred to as "the battleground."

Most readers will become so involved in the story that they will probably ignore the sometimes awkward descriptions, the simple conclusions, and the possibly incorrect motivations attributed to the characters. A fascinating sociological study of the mores of aristocratic England and a personal study of Idina Sackville, who was both its victim and its most celebrated example, The Bolter will fascinate those interested in this period and in the unstated rules of aristocratic life.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 2 Sep 2010
By 
N. O'Brien "N.O'Brien" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The woman who scandalised 1920s Society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress (Paperback)
Painstakingly researched,interesting point of view given the author's personal family connection. The family tree at the start of the book is very useful too as there are lots of characters and marriages to keep track of ! If you enjoy social history and well written biography, buy this book.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars broken britain?, 5 Jun 2010
By 
Chris Miller (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
and they say we live bad lives today!! the sheer bad behaviour in this book is brilliant to read about - just show's there's nothing new under the sun and we certainy aren't necessarily worse as a society than we were in some mythical golden age. masses of detail in the book, the author clearly did her research and knew exactly what idina did month by month, or even week by week over her whole life. it's all here. The one thing I did notice - the key selling point on the back cover etc is all about how awful idina was in leaving her children, how this cast such as shadow over her etc. But when you read the book you see that even beforehand she barely saw her kids. even when she and her husband went to the country to visit them with their nannies they only spent part of the day with the children, the rest at lunches etc. and when their father had custody he spent very little time with them either. it seems this was the way it was back then, so this was perhaps the least shocking thing about idina's life. that said, really enjoyed this slice of life - bad behaviour all round, very told!
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but flawed, 28 Jan 2009
This review is from: The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The woman who scandalised 1920s Society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress (Paperback)
I eagerly picked up this book, ready to devour an era long passed, and indulge in all it's scandal and luxury, and maybe on that level, I wasn't disappointed. But I just felt that although the author clearly has a lovely style of writing, the book was more of her personal search of her family history, and this has been put before the need to retain the reader's interest.

I just didn't feel as though the actual version of events lived up to the title, or the blurb. I felt as though there was something missing, and at the end of the book, I wasn't left feeling as though I knew or understood either Idina or her contemporaries. I think the exploration of the characters reached only very shallow water, and the chronology was sometimes disjointed and clumsy.

Maybe I am being harsh, I don't know, but all in all whilst I did enjoy this book on some level, it wasn't as satisfying as I had hoped.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ashendon Book Group says..., 1 Dec 2009
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This review is from: The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The woman who scandalised 1920s Society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress (Paperback)
We all loved the book, though it was an incredibly sad story and we felt very sorry for Idina. It was a tragic though clearly rich life. Failed marriages, untimely deaths and personal ill health haunted Idina. However Idina still managed to enjoy life and fitted a vast amount in: setting up 3 farms on previously untended land in Kenya is pretty impressive in itself - she was certainly highly regarded by the Kenyans. Then there is the massive house in Scotland that she project managed at a very young age. Also her trips to Paris in wartime and a drive to Kenya are incredible. She did all this and remained so glamorous - what a gal - hat's off to Idina.

We found the permissive Edwardian society absolutely astounding - affairs among the gentry were rife! In fact they seem to have been almost the norm and the general behaviour was shocking even to us broad minded modern women!. Idina certainly wasn't the worst.

At the beginning of the book it is easy to be judgemental about Idina, and the decisions she made, but as the story unfolds it is clear just how unselfish she was. We loved that Frances Osbourn made no judgement - she simply tells the story as it was and wasn't tempted to sensationalise. The afterword is an independent verification of all that Frances tells.

We found the footnotes through the book of no help at all but the family tree at the front of the book was frequently flicked back to by most of us.
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