Customer Review

8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A little too superficial to live up to the hype, 8 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Sheila: The Australian ingenue who bewitched British society (Hardcover)
After all the hype this book has received, I was rather disappointed in it. The story of Sheila Chisholm, the Australian girl who married into the British aristocracy and became intimate with many famous people, including royalty, has a great deal of intrinsic interest. I suppose I therefore expected more of her personality and character to emerge -- but as the author points out, Sheila was discreet in her unpublished memoir, and probably there aren't enough other original sources to give us more of her "voice". The book is excellent at telling us where and when Sheila did what, and due credit is given to her wartime nursing and other charitable work. Many of the socialites she knew are familiar from other books, so this one doesn't cover much new ground. The author seems unsure of whether Sheila actually had a love affair with Prince Albert (later George VI) or not, but there is almost certainly no evidence either way. Overall, I found the book rather superficial, a list of fabulous social events and prominent people. I was interested, but wanted more depth, but I suspect there just weren't enough sources available. As Sheila withdrew somewhat from social life, the book loses impetus and rather fizzles out. One niggle was that the author often gets titles wrong -- "Viscount of Norwich", "Lady Sheila Loughborough" instead of "Sheila, Lady Loughborough", "Lady Diana Mosley" for "Lady Mosley" (and this in reference to an event before Diana Guinness married Sir Oswald Mosley.) Small things, but important in a book about titled people. So -- an interesting enough book, but without much depth. At least it makes a change to read about an Australian rather than an America marrying into British high society.
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Location: Adelaide, South Australia

Top Reviewer Ranking: 23,664