Customer Reviews for

The Bolter

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  • Posted November 6, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    What more can be said?

    Osborne's book, in which she gathers the viewpoints of two branches of the family that haven't had contact in nearly a half-century, points out a few notable things about Idina "The Bolter" Sackville that the novels she inspired or the previous chronicles of her life apparently skimmed: her early life affected her later years. She grew up as a child of divorce -- which, back then, was more than just scandalous, it could lose you playmates overnight and force you to endure the whisperers that loved to bring up the scandal every time you ventured into any kind of major social setting. Idina's mother divorced her father to prevent him from wasting HER family's money on his live-in mistress, breaking an unwritten, accepted code among the American and European aristocracy: couples stayed together, even if they hated each other, because marriage for love was a 20th-century notion among their set; up until then, marriage was a contract uniting families of property and/or title, and affairs were just one of the ways couples endured being married. Idina, in a way, had been set up to fail -- her husband indulged his roving eye much like he was expected to do, but Idina, traumatized by her father's desertion, saw it differently. When the divorce came, the husband asserted his rights under the law at that time, married the sister of Idina's own sister's husband (a witch with a capital B who saw to it Idina was erased from her two sons' lives until, one by one, they sought her out as adults in the months before each of them died), which caused the two sisters themselves to be estranged until the sister got divorced years later. Idina would seek love, either romantic or parental, for the rest of her life, one of the few times she came close to finding it being in her relationship with her eldest son, who was enough like her that he was unable to fit into the world his father and stepmother had established after the divorce; he got on a religious kick that made even his father take notice and, ironically, it would be "Dina", with whom he had established secret ties, that would indirectly influence him to move away from religion and into art history. He went to Greece, married, periodically reunited with Idina, and died in the early part of the war. A daughter from one of Idina's later marriages would, ironically, end up having to break off ties with Idina because of the same whisperings Idina endured in her childhood.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 28, 2009

    Great Read!

    Interesting, fast-paced, and intriguing at every turn.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

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  • Posted June 27, 2012

    Frances Osborne has written a fascinating biography of her great

    Frances Osborne has written a fascinating biography of her great-grandmother, the impossibly glamorous and notoriously wild Idina Sackville (uh-huh, related to the famous Vita Sackville-West) that reads like a naughty, often tragic, occasionally shocking novel. (Nancy Mitford wrote a novel based on Idina, called “Love in a Cold Climate” which I have yet to read but I will certainly do so now.)

    Booze, drugs, sex, booze, obscene wealth, booze, sex, fabulous clothes, multiple suicides, sex, broken hearts, gunshots in the night, lions and tigers and the Mau Mau uprising . . . oh my, indeed.

    This is the world of the 1920s British colonialists in Kenya – what was called the Happy Valley set, who partied like it was the end of times. If you’ve seen the film “White Mischief” you will recognize Idina as the character he called the ‘high priestess’ of the group. She painted her fingernails green, she named her puppy Satan and bathed in a bathtub filled with champagne while surrounded by her dinner guests. She married and divorced five times by 1945.
    Osborne says she wrote the book in part because she felt her grandmother, who was vilified by the family, to discover “what had made her bolt from a husband she loved? Was there a story behind it, or was it just some impulse, an impulse that one day might resurface in me?” Now that she has two children of her own, just as Idina did when she bolted from her first husband, in effect abandoning the children, this question feels urgent. She does, indeed answer this question, to her own satisfaction, and that of the reader.

    The journey towards understanding is an unnerving one. Were this fiction, we would be inclined to find it far-fetched. As biography, it is a true tragedy, with moments of high farce. Osborne was blessed with what appear to be boatloads of letters and diaries, from which she has been able to create a vivid portrait of the period, the mind-set, the politics and the people. It is a sad story, but one lived on such a grand scale, and told with such a clear voice, it is entirely involving.

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  • Posted January 17, 2011

    You have to read this!

    I like the fact that the author didn't try to get you to side with Idina in the choices she made, good or bad, she simply tells you about her life. I love the picture she paints of how life was for her.

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  • Posted October 2, 2009

    I loved this book

    "The Bolter" was fascinating, compelling, and a really interesting book. I am impressed with the research that went into it from so many years ago, and would reccommend it to book clubs.

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