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The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The woman who scandalised 1920s Society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress Paperback – 29 Dec 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 121 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Virago (29 Dec. 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1844084809
  • ISBN-13: 978-1844084807
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 32,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

The Bolter is the real Idina's story told by her great-grand-daughter Frances Osborne. It whirls the reader through the London social scene during the First World War and the decadence of Kenya's Happy Valley via Idina's five marriages and innumerable love affairs. I loved it. (Alice O'Keeffe, Amazon)

Passionate and headstrong, Lady Idina was determined to be free even if the cost was scandal and ruin. Frances Osborne has brilliantly captured not only one woman's life but an entire lost society. (Amanda Foreman)

Rich, title, witty, beguiling, Lady Idina Sackville had all the gifts, except, perhaps, judgement. Frances Osborne has written an enthralling account of a dazzling, troubled, life. (Julian Fellowes)

** 'On the literary pages, the wife of current shadow chancellor George Osborne, Frances, stepped into the limelight, as her new book, The Bolter, attracted the most reviews (THE BOOKSELLER)

Book Description

* 'This is a truly astonishing book. Frances Osborne has not just brought to life a dizzyingly rich and scandalous slice of social history, she has produced a tragic and deeply moving tale as well. It is far more gripping than any novel I have read for years' Antony Beevor

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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Format: 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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By DeeJayH VINE VOICE on 19 April 2009
Format: 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.
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Format: Hardcover
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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