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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One simply can't believe it is all true., 24 Aug. 2011
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This review is from: The Viceroy's Daughters: The Lives of the Curzon Sisters (Women in History) (Paperback)
Before I read this book, I read a really poorly written Swedish biography on the Mitford sisters. Diana Mitford it said, became mistress of fascist leader Mosley, and when his wife died, he also took his wife's younger sister as a mistress and had the other sister raise his children. It sounded too incredible to be true so I just HAD to find out who these women in Mosley's life were and decided on this book.

I bought it used and on the inside front someone had written "Hope this doesn't turn your stomach". This book does turn your stomach for many reasons! First of all it describes a social class that did not abide to the same rules as us other mortals do. It describes parents whose only concerns were physical pleasure, parties, looks, houses, jewels, clothes and hunting. Children were not to be heard or seen. You bred to have an heir and a spare. You married title or money. Adultery was a normal part of life and accepted as long as it was discrete.

The book does not only describe the Curzon daughters but it starts describing the man himself and then his marriage to an American heiress with too much money. A rather stupid woman that failed to see that her husband was a calculating man who had no qualms of robbing his daughters of their inheritance and his love. She died at an early age leaving her fortune in the hands of her husband that did not use it for the benefit of his daughters as she probably had hoped he would. He soon took himself a couple of mistresses and when they both became widows, he chose the younger basically because he wanted a son. All his wife's money was spent on houses for HIM and his new wife's children. She did not produce the heir he hoped for and he failed to see what a cold, calculating, insanely jealous woman she really was nor did he realized that she cheated on him for years before he died. He testamented as much as he could to her and her children, even the jewelry from his first wife that was intended for her daughters, went to wife number two and her children.

The sordid story moves on to his daughters. The oldest, Irene, was always taken advantage of. She had a love affair with a married man for years on end and he never left his wife and she never got over him so she became a very lonely woman. All nieces and nephews were dumped on her so their parents could be off on holidays and other entertainment and she was expected to pay for their upkeep without as much as a thank you.

Sister number two fell for the philanderer Oswald Mosley who gave her a life of misery, arguments, humiliation, shame and finally a too early death. His mistresses were so many that the book could not mention them all. But the youngest sister, Baba, that became his mistress three months after the death of his wife, and Diana Mitford Guinness, receive a lot of space in the book. Especially Diana gets a lot of space since she wrecked all three sisters' lives, the childrens' and Baba's husband's. Baba married Prince Edward's best friend Fruity Metcalfe who was 17 years older than her. Which means that the book also go in to all the Prince's affairs, his personality and interests, his abdication after becoming King and his marriage to Wallis Simpson and their pretend court in France.
Baba was Mosley's mistress for years till she discovered that he had married mistress number 2, Diana Mitford, and had had a child with her. The book also describes her life with numerous lovers and her non-war efforts as well as Irene's war efforts and work. Irene had time for everything from taking care of Mosley and Metcalfe children to doing charity work and partying.

This book is very detailed, well researched and a fascinating read even though their world of incredible riches, immorality, no conscience, is as far as it can be from modern life.
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