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4.3 out of 5 stars
The Temptress: The scandalous life of Alice, Countess de Janzé
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on 19 July 2017
Anyone hoping for a juicy, gossipy or entertaining read is destined to be disappointed. To cut a long story short, I found this book all rather a bore, though I did plod on to the end, having nothing else to read on a few days away. Clearly the writer is a diligent intellectual and meticulous in research but the titlle, blurb and some reviews suggest a more riveting, exciting tale. Instead I found myself yawning through a plethora of name-dropping, dates and a writing style that put me off "History" 60 years ago due to mind-numbing textbooks. Despite the author's spadework, personal detail of the characters seemed lacking - one kept waiting (hoping!) for something sit-up scandalous to occur but the outcome seemed slightly dreary and as if (he was) trying not to offend the upper middle classes too much, maybe due to one of the "set" being a friend of the family. As regards the murder of Lord Erroll, after all the point of this book, haziness still prevailed and thus one is none the wiser.
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on 27 September 2015
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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on 14 July 2017
This book kept me enthralled from beginning to end. He has developed the main characters very well. Although you dont get the atmosphere of 'being' in Africa you definitely get an idea of what type of life the 'happy valley' set got up to. The number of multiple marriages and relationships was amazing. Written with great empathy for Alice.
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on 3 December 2012
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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on 8 November 2010
I came to this after reading 'White Mischief' and 'The Bolter', in which Alice played significant, though peripheral, roles. Spicer makes much of his family's connection with Alice and the Happy Valley set, but other than a few facts about her early life and the reminiscences of her children, this doesn't add much to the general reader's knowledge. Considering the sensational material, the book isn't a gripping read, partly because of the author's tabloid style and also because his two major conjectures - that Alice killed Joss Hay and that her behaviour was a result of a specific mental illness - seem spurious and are impossible to prove beyond doubt.
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on 20 April 2017
A wonderful and rather sad story of the decadence and lack of morality in the upper classes in Kenya during the idyllic years before the Mau Mau changed life for colonialists for ever.
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on 8 September 2011
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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on 19 January 2018
Looks promising- didn’t know about this story so looking forward to a few good nights reading
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on 28 October 2015
It was an interesting and lively tale because I have always been interested in the Happy Valley crowd. Not the first I have read on the subject but a good read and a sad story about Alice even if she was poor little rich girl.
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on 5 September 2014
Really good - fascinating. I now feel that Paul Spicer is correct in proposing Alice as murdered of Lord Errol. Read many books about this, but this is thought-provoking when you think you have read everything! Thanks, Paul
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