3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Two very different women - both loved the same man,
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This review is from: Alice Keppel and Agnes Keyser: Edward VII's Last Loves (Paperback)
Lucky Bertie! This must be the stuff some men only dream of - having a wife at home and two other women crazy about you in their own way.
The infamous quote by the now Duchess of Cornwall, "my Great-Grandmother had a fling with your Great-Great Grandfather, so how about it?" is on the back of this book as not many people may realise that Camilla is related to Alice Keppel. Fortunately, Camilla's grandmother, Sonia Cubitt only passed away in 1986 so there was plenty of material for the author to draw on. In fact for those who have seen Edward the Seventh, may remember that when he was King he went to his grandson's birthday party and a child shouts out "Hello Kingy". One could attribute that to Sonia Keppel who called him Kingy and then the races with the bread and butter down the trousers...that's also something from Sonia's memoirs.
The book tends to concentrate more on Alice Keppel than Agnes Keyser as Alice was the more dominant figure in Edward's life towards the end and Agnes was someone who came across as more "jolly hockey sticks" than merely being a woman who liked being wined and dined and showered in jewels.
Lamont-Brown goes right through their early lives and shows us that Alice Keppel was somewhat economical with the truth on her reaction to the death of Edward. She claimed that she was calm and resolute in her grief when nothing could be further from the truth. She was hysterical and was nearly caught in her hysteria by the now-widowed Queen Alexandra. However, she was never one to rest on her laurels as she had her children to think of and subsequently the book goes on to discuss her elder daughter Violet's life. Violet was Violet Trefusis who had a much publicised affair with the writer and later gardener, Vita Sackville-West. I am not sure if this is truly relevant to the book as this affair took place after Edward's death and perhaps pads out the book which is not long anyway.
The book opens with the announcement of the death of Alice Keppel which if my arithmetic is right, may have been when Camilla was but months or only even weeks old. How Alice would have been bemused at how things and times have changed.
Agnes Keyser for her part proved a confidante to Edward in a way that perhaps Alice was unable to fulfill. It is not stated that Edward was ever in a sexual relationship with Agnes as it does allude with Alice but her sensible, downright nature may have been the attracting factor and her link to Edward secures her place in history.
A good read even if it diverts to the love affair with Vita & Violet.