Author(s): Frances Osborne
On Friday 25th May, 1934, a forty-one-year-old woman walked into the lobby of Claridge's Hotel to meet the nineteen-year-old son whose face she did not know. Fifteen years earlier, as the First World War ended, Idina Sackville shocked high society by leaving his multimillionaire father to run off to Africa with a near penniless man. An inspiration for Nancy Mitford's character The Bolter, painted by William Orpen, and photographed by Cecil Beaton, Sackville went on to divorce a total of five times, yet died with a picture of her first love by her bed. Her struggle to reinvent her life with each new marriage left one husband murdered and branded her the 'high priestess' of White Mischief's bed-hopping Happy Valley in Kenya. Sackville's life was so scandalous that it was kept a secret from her great-granddaughter Frances Osborne. Now, Osborne tells the moving tale of betrayal and heartbreak behind Sackville's road to scandal and return, painting a dazzling portrait of high society in the early twentieth century.
* '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
Shortlisted for Galaxy British Book Awards: Richard and Judy's Best Read of the Year 2009.
'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
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.