Those Wild Wyndhams

Three Sisters at the Heart of Power
Narrated by: Claudia Renton
Length: 15 hrs and 2 mins
4 out of 5 stars (57 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The three dazzlingly beautiful, wildly rich Wyndham sisters, part of the 400 families that made up Britain's ruling class, at the center of cultural and political life in late-Victorian/Edwardian Britain. Here are their complex, idiosyncratic lives; their opulent, privileged world; their romantic, roiling age. 

They were confidantes to British prime ministers, poets, writers, and artists, their lives entwined with the most celebrated and scandalous figures of the day, from Oscar Wilde to Henry James. They were the lovers of great men - or men of great prominence...

Mary Wyndham, wilder than her wild brothers; lover of Wilfrid Blunt, confidante of Prime Minister Arthur Balfour (the Balfour Declaration); married to Hugo, Lord Elcho; later the Countess of Wemyss...

Madeline Adeane, the quietest and happiest of the three...

And Pamela, spoiled, beautiful; of the three, possesser of the true talent; wife of the foreign secretary Edward Grey (later Viscount Grey), who took Britain into the First World War. 

They lived in a world of luxurious excess, a world of splendor at 44 Belgrave Square and later at the even more vast Clouds, the exquisite Wiltshire house on 4,000 acres, the "house of the age", designed in 1876 by the visionary architect Philip Webb - the model for Henry James' The Spoils of Poynton.

They were bred with the pride of the Plantagenets and raised with a fierce belief that their family was exceptional. They avoided the norm at all costs and led the way to a blending of aristocracy and art. Their group came to be called The Souls, whose members from 1885 to the 1920s included the most distinguished politicians, artists, and thinkers of their time.

In Those Wild Wyndhams, Claudia Renton gives us a dazzling portrait of one of England's grandest, noblest families. Renton captures, with nuance and depth, their complex wrangling between head and heart and the tragedy at the center of all their lives as the privilege and bliss of the Victorian age gave way to the Edwardian era, the Great War, and the passing of an opulent world.

©2018 Claudia Renton (P)2018 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"[An] accomplished literary debut, a spirited and captivating history of the lives and loves of aristocrats in Victorian/Edwardian Britain...a richly detailed tapestry featuring the alluring Wyndham sisters... A sparkling family portrait and riveting history." (Kirkus)

"Three high-society sisters who were part of the British cultural and political elite in the late 19th and early 20th centuries...a portrait of the aristocratic intelligentsia in Victorian and Edwardian England. This tale of the witty, sparkling privileged set may appeal most to fans of Downton Abbey." (Publishers Weekly)

"It is many years since I have been waiting for someone to fill Nancy Mitford's shoes as a U-biographer, but Claudia Renton has done it with her lively, spirited story of the three beautiful Wyndham sisters and the privileged world in which they lived. Her book elegantly combines romance and history, set against the ultimately doomed and fatal glory of Edwardian England." (Michael Korda, author of Alone)

What members say

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

This Wild Wyndhams...an incisive look at the British ruling class

A 19th century and early 20th century narrative of one of Britain’s most interesting families with their strengths and foibles on full displays. A marvel of research and told in a most entertaining way.

9 people found this helpful

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  • 05-09-19

Perfection. Utter Perfection. An absolute gem.

As a rule, I don't usually go for books where the author narrates their own work, because I feel that it's rare that it can be done without the quality suffering to some extent. THIS is that rarity. I can't imagine anyone else doing this enthralling labor of love the justice it deserves. I involuntarily placed my hand over my heart at the poignient last sentence. Bravo! I'm literally about to listen to it another time because I want, no, NEED it to all start over again.

6 people found this helpful

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Excellent In Every Respect

The book is a fascinating blend of social history, political history, and art history. Very well written and beautifully narrated, I’ve enjoyed it more then any other audio book I have recently listened to. If I had one critical comment it would be that the title is a little misleading, it sounds as though you’re going to hear about some frivolous and naughty socialites when in fact they only lived somewhat unrthodoxly for their time and were quasi-intellectual bohemians. However, I was not disappointed and the book was so much more interesting than I expected. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

4 people found this helpful

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Fascinating but Hard to Follow

If I had more detailed knowledge of British history, I would have enjoyed this more in the recorded version. I feel the need to read the text, which I hope might also have charts showing relationships. I look forward to the pictures in the book.

4 people found this helpful

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SLOW START BUT STICK WITH THIS ONE

I had trouble getting into this book at first. I don’t know if it was the narrator or the way the story began. Fortunately I fell asleep and woke up around Chapter 5. THEN the fun began!

This is a well-written story about 3 little known yet amazing female members of minor British aristocracy. Each sister is unique, talented and innovative in her own way. I’m not going to say a lot here. This is a book that will interest each listener in his or her own way. Try it, stick with it and ....ENJOY!

11 people found this helpful

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Powerful Women

After having read about these sisters and their families on the periferie of so many other histories and biographies, it is magical to have a whole great read devoted to just them.

4 people found this helpful

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Wild, indeed!

The Wyndham sisters were magnificently captured in their pre-Edwardian undulating bubble by the author. Time and place came to life in her writing and narration of these distinctly engaging yet often times lost sisters was perfect in detail and lifestyle and life-searching moments. I truly enjoyed the author narrating her own scrupulously researched biography of the entire Wyndham family, including their spouses and children’s children. Worth every moment of listening. I hope Renton is researching and writing her next wild family!

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Not wild at all, pretty dull and you can't return.

Dull, drags on and who cares about all the people they dined with and where they spent the weekend.

1 person found this helpful