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The Temptress: The scandalous life of Alice, Countess de Janzé Paperback – 3 Feb 2011

4.3 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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  • The Temptress: The scandalous life of  Alice, Countess de Janzé
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  • The Bolter: Idina Sackville - The woman who scandalised 1920s Society and became White Mischief's infamous seductress
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  • The Ghosts of Happy Valley: Searching for the Lost World of Africa's Infamous Aristocrats
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (3 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847399142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847399144
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'Deliciously salacious' --Vogue

`Entertainingly told' -- The Spectator

`A delicious story' -- Daily Telegraph

`A Bold Story' --Sunday Times

`Defective fiction meets biography to hypnotic effect'
--Easy Living

`The Temptress is a page-turner . . . a first-rate story' --Mail on Sunday

'[Spicer] treats [Alice] as a sympathetic character inexplicably overlooked as a suspect rather than as the raging psycho she clearly was.' --The Sunday Times, February 20, 2011 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Paul Spicer was born in South-east England, spent his childhood in Kenya and Jerusalem, attended Eton in the 1940s and has since spent his life travelling the world as a businessman. Married with two grown-up children, he divides his time between Dorset and Kenya. The Temptress: The Scandalous LIfe of Alice, Countess de Janze is his first biography.


Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Do you ever read a book you enjoy so much that you hunt down similar books about similar subjects to fill the void? It never works. After Paul Spicer's 'The Temptress,' I read Frances Osbourne's 'The Bolter,' which was an anti-climax.

This book, by contrast, was an absolute delight. I can't recommend it highly enough. Spicer is clearly invested in his subject, Alice De Janze, an uncommonly beautiful American heiress and member of Kenya's notorious Happy Valley Set between the wars. The writing is flawless, evocative and transporting. The subject matter is engrossing. Spicer writes about Alice incisively, striking exactly the right balance between analysis and narrative, maintaining exactly the right distance from a subject with whom he is somewhat connected (she was friends with his mother.) This is a story you'll read without blinking, until you realise it's 4am and you're disappointed to be finished. The pace and tone of the narrative is compelling, too. Just when you feel the story is meandering along at a comfortably pleasant pace, something terrifically dramatic happens, and Alice De Janze's life was punctuated with a lot of cinematically melodramatic moments.

The most infamous of these incidents in the book is the murder of Lord Erroll (the subject of 'White Mischief,' a book by historian James Fox, and later a film of the same title.) A reviewer below criticises Spicer for his theory about Erroll's murder, and this is probably legitimate. I haven't read 'White Mischief,' so Spicer's is effectively the first theory about Erroll's death that I have read. For this reason, I was pretty easily persuaded. Those who are more widely read in this area can better judge. However, as an ignorant but interested reader I enthusiastically recommend this to like-minded readers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An interesting and well written account of the life of Alice, Countess De Janze, one of the Happy Valley set. However, the author's contention that Alice murdered Josslyn Hay, Earl of Erroll, is based on speculation rather than fact. As a candidate for the murder Alice is at best in the "possible but not probable" category and, with so much time passed and all possible suspects long dead, the murder is unlikely to ever be solved. James fox's White Mischief is still the most plausible account of what may actually have happened.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought this book for reading on holiday, having watched the film "White Mischief" and being rather intrigued about all the lives and loves of the "Happy Valley" set. An interesting story. Only one drawback - I was so keen to continue reading page after page, that before I knew what had happened, I had finished the book before the holiday was over!!
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Format: Hardcover
Having lived in Kenya until 1973, and regularly visiting it since to visit relations, I found it very interesting. I agree with the writer that he is very likely correct
in his naming the murderer of Joss.
But I did find it disconcerting that there were many mistakes on other facts, which I personally noticed knowing the country and the people involved.
For all it is a very interesting book and well worth reading.
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I read this after The Bolter,in which Alice de Janze also features. A 'poor little rich girl', she had a pampered yet dysfunctional upbringing. Her mother died early and she spent a lot of time with her father, till taken to live with relatives in her teens. Her marriage was not a love match, and the book concerns mainly her time in Kenya up to 1941 when she killed herself.She had various affairs, most notably with Joss Hay, the White Mischief victim. She was an absentee mother and seemed to prefer her animals, which included a monkey and a lion.
She suffered from depression and shortly after the trial following Erroll's murder killed herself. The author thinks she,not Jock Broughton, shot Erroll. She may have done, but the evidence is sketchy.She was capable of it-she stood trial for shooting her lover Raymund de Trafford, whom she later married.
This is an entertaining book but a little too nice to everyone-why no mention of Joss's horsewhipping?
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Format: Hardcover
An interesting biography of Alice's history and life, although you feel some areas are not fully explored (history with father for one).
However, as an addition to the Erroll murder investigation I didn't find it added anything new, and was not convincing in its conclusion, as the "confession letter" is already known about. (And why has no-one ever tracked it down...?) This however, is hardly Spicer's fault, as the murder is already too distant to ever be solved finally and indisputedly. Also why does he gloss over the most famous scene of her life in the mortuary ?
Beautiful photos though, but it needs more...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read other books on the murder of Joss Hay by James Fox, Beryl Markham, Mary S Lovell & Karen Blixen, I found this one to be the most enlightening on the social circle & the various interests of different countries in East Africa. This is where you learn he returned from London in 1934 to Kenya as Mosley's delegate in Kenya & although he wasn't murdered until 1941, by then Mussolini had declared war on Great Britain & the threat of Kenya's invasion by Italians had redoubled. I should think it quite likely he was bumped off for political reasons! (The Moselys & Delves Broughton are family friends). Paul Spicer's mother was a friend of Alice's in Kenya.
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