* '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
Born in London in 1969, Frances Osborne worked as a barrister, investment research analyst and journalist before writing her first book, Lilla's Feast. She is married to George Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor.
Lady Idina Sackville must be among the last of the titled and scandalous Brits of the post-World War I era whose lives have not yet been recorded in biography. Osborne, her great-granddaughter, has filled that small gap with this gossipy story, which takes its name from a sad minor character that novelist Nancy Mitford is said to have modeled on Idina in The Pursuit of Love. The Mitford connection is pretty much it for a claim to fame. In 1919 Idina deserted a fabulously wealthy husband and two toddlers to marry a lover and buy a farm in her beloved Kenya, where she turned up again (and usually built another house) with each of her subsequent three husbands. Osborne recounts with gusto the byzantine sexploits of Idina, her husbands, and their many houseguests. She claims that Idina also served as the model for the vamp heroine of Michael Arlen's sensational 1920s best seller The Green Hat. Verdict This is not a work of great depth; typical of the haphazard construction of the book, Osborne forgets to tell us if either Mitford or Arlen actually knew Idina. Still, those who enjoy stories (fiction or nonfiction) of the past's oversexed and idle rich (and there are lots of these readers) will love this book.-Stewart Desmond, New York City Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
'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 ** 'Truly interesting. Osborne paints an enthralling portrait of upper class English life just before, during and immediately after the Great War. Frivolous, rich, sexy, achingly fashionable ... Frances Osborne has probably made her peace at last.' Robert McCrum, OBSERVER ** 'The Bolter is a biographical treat' Kerry Fowler, GOOD HOUSEKEEPING ** 'Osborne is a graceful writer, excellent at evoking the atmosphere of London during the First World War and Happy Valley in the Twenties. Her judgement is pitch-perfect, never letting Idina off the hook but at the same time sympathetic towards her, and she skilfully captures the myriad twists and turns of a turbulent life.' Christopher Silvester, DAILY EXPRESS ** 'Frances Osborne has produced a racy romp underpinned by some impressive research. She understands the period and the world she describes.' Selina Hastings, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH ** 'Osborne is an imaginative scene painter... Idina wasn't admirable, but Osborne makes us sympathise with her.' Marianne Brace, INDEPENDENT ** 'An engaging book and a definitive final look back at those naughty people who, between the wars, took their bad behaviour off to Kenya and whose upper-class delinquency became gilded with unjustified glamour.' Alexandra Fuller, FINANCIAL TIMES ** 'A bewitching character brilliantly painted' EASY LIVING ** 'A superb portrait of an astonishing woman and her times.' WBQ ** 'Osborne has had, as you would expect a family member, unprecedented access to Sackville's diaries ? and those of most of her husbands.' Kayt Turner, SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY
Osborne's lively narrative brings Lady Idina Sackville (an inspiration for Nancy Mitford's character the Bolter) boldly to life, with a black lapdog named Satan at her side and a cigarette in her hand. Osborne (Lilla's Feast) portrays a desperately lonely woman who shocked Edwardian high society with relentless affairs and drug-fueled orgies. Idina's story unfolds in an intimate tone thanks to the author, her great-granddaughter, who only accidentally discovered the kinship in her youth with the media serialization of James Fox's White Mischief. Osborne makes generous use of sources and private family photos to add immediacy and depth to the portrait of a woman most often remembered as an amoral five-time divorcee: the author shows her hidden kindnesses at her carefully preserved Kenyan cattle ranch-a refuge from the later destructive Kenyan massacres. Still, Osborne unflinchingly exposes Idina's flaws-along with those of everyone else in the politely adulterous high society-while ably couching them in the context of the tumultuous times in which Idina resolved to find happiness in all the wrong places. The text, most lyrical when describing the landscapes around Idina's African residences, proves that an adventurous spirit continues to run in this fascinating family. 66 photos, (June) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.