The Bolter

Say you’re 13 years old and reading the Sunday paper when you’re transfixed by the story of Idina Sackville, a woman so wild, so daring and dazzling and decadent that it seems sinful to let your little sister see it. And when a fight over the newspaper leads your parents to admit that Idina is, in fact, your great grandmother, what do you do? In the case of Frances Osborne, who suddenly found herself related to one of the most scandalous black sheep of one of England?s oldest families, you become obsessed. And then, when you?re old enough, you write The Bolter. The relative whose shocking life had caused her to be scrubbed from the family tree became Osborne?s passion. And little wonder. Idina, though not a great beauty, was irresistible to men and women alike. She married five times (thus, the Bolter) and had countless lovers. She threw grand dinner parties and notorious spouse-swapping house parties. She had a farm in Africa, two abandoned sons in England, and an utter lack of interest in a conventional life. Though Idina?s life was chronicled in the newspapers and scandal sheets of her day, Osborne, an author and journalist, brings depth and context to her infamous great-grandmother. Through interviews with family members and by poring over letters and diaries, Osborne gets beyond the salacious and sensational and introduces us to a real woman. Dense with detail, The Bolter can occasionally be heavy going. But Idina, as mesmerizing as she is doomed, saves it.

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