A glittering portrait of fashionable Edwardian high society, seen through the lives of a brother and sister torn between their ties to the past and the lure of the modern era
Victoria Mary Sackville-West, known as Vita, was born in 1892 at Knole in Kent, the only child of aristocratic parents. In 1913 she married diplomat Harold Nicolson, with whom she had two sons and travelled extensively before settling at Kent's Sissinghurst Castle in 1930, where she devoted much of her time to creating its now world famous garden. Throughout her life Sackville-West had a number of other relationships with both men and women, and her unconventional marriage would later become the subject of a biography written by her son Nigel Nicolson. Though she produced a substantial body of work, amongst which are writings on travel and gardening, Sackville-West is best known for her novels The Edwardians (1930) and All Passion Spent (1931), and for the pastoral poem The Land (1926), which was awarded the prestigious Hawthornden Prize. Sackville-West died on 2 June 1962 at her Sissinghurst home, aged 70.
As opulent and ambiguous as the author herself -- Victoria
Sackville-West wrote without fuss or anxiety. Her fluency could be relied on to provide imaginative security, and she wanted readers - of The Edwardians, Family History, All Passion Spent - to feel that too * Guardian *
A close-up portrait of the excessive lifestyle of the aristocracy in a country estate... living out the tension between playing your given part in society - staying true to the rules and culture you were born into - and becoming an independent person, a tension that also defines "Downton Abbey," both upstairs and down. * Boston Globe *
Exposes the shallowness of the elite in society at the beginning of the twentieth century... I found this novel a real pleasure to read... Sackville-West describes some of the monstrous characters with great humour... The tone is witty and perceptive and it is obvious she has a deep insider knowledge of the life she is criticizing... The Edwardians was apparently an instant success on publication and I think today it would certainly appeal to fans of Downton Abbey or books like The Forsyte Saga. Book groups would find plenty to discuss about both the social history and the outrageous characters in the novel. -- Gwenda Major * Nudge *