The sisters saw British fascism from behind the scenes and had an equally intimate view of the arrival of Wallis Simpson and the marriage and life of the Windsors. Based on unpublished letters and diaries, this is a wonderfully revealing portrait of British upper-class life during the first half of the 20th century.
©2000 Anne de Courcy; (P)2007 Oakhill Publishing
"Celebrity lovers will love this book, which covers all aspects of the lives of this elite group, it's wealth, manners (ill-bred and upper crust), lusts, and political intrigues" (Library Journal)
The Curzon sisters lived in very interesting times and moved in very interesting circles; however this book is far less interesting than it should be. We are told that their father was a truly great man, yet from this book it is hard to know what that reputation was based on.
The most interesting section involves Cimmie, her infatuation for the revolting Oswald Moseley, her loss of him to Diana Mitford and her tragic death.
Irene comes across as a failure - an alcoholic who never found true love. Her life was far more than that, yet we only see her in this dimension.
Essentially, this is where I was disappointed with this book. The private lives of people who achieve much in the public sphere may be less than perfect, but without a good treatment of their achievements, you cannot understand the full person and they become far less interesting.
The biographies of the three Curzon sisters and the social history of their times make for fascinating reading. The Curzon family and their set led fascinating lives, although they were not always admirable or even likeable. The cast of peripheral characters is varied and spectacular: Oswald Mosley, Hitler, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Nancy Astor, and many others - the rich and famous and influential of the era. A lot of research has gone into this book, and quotes from letters and other documents allow some insight into the motivations, emotions and reactions of the central characters. It is all beautifully recounted, and I was always reluctant to switch off the book and keen to get back to it. The narrator is excellent - importantly she correctly pronounces the foreign words and names. If you enjoy biography, social history, or gossip about the rich and famous, you should enjoy this well-written and well-read book.
The narration of this audiobook may sound; at first, quite good, however it doesn't sound right when the narrator uses the letter 'f' instead of 'th' e.g.. HH Askwith is read as 'Askwif' and 'Mary's death...' as 'Mary's def'.... I think it is awful, also 'Weather...' is recorded as 'Wefer'.. Please listen intently, this is not a criticism of the Narrator, but the audio production - very poor.
"A fascinating vantage point"
The lives of Curzon's daughters, examined not only through events but through diaries, letters and other personal exchanges, gives a fascinating vantage point on the first half of the 20th century, from life in 'society' to the rise of British facism, the abdication of Edward VIII and the Second World War.
The narrator reads clearly, with good pace and expression, and her voice is right for the book.
This book proved very enjoyable in every sense, far more so than I had expected.
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