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The Bolter
     

The Bolter

3.7 33
by Frances Osborne
 

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A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
An O, The Oprah Magazine #1 Terrific Read

In an age of bolters—women who broke the rules and fled their marriages—Idina Sackville was the most celebrated of them all. Her relentless affairs, wild sex parties, and brazen flaunting of convention shocked high society and inspired countless

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The Bolter 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The writing, coming from an English major, from one of England's finest institutions, was shockingly poor. The book was a satisfying airplane book. It rounded out the edges from a familiar upper crust society, decadent with morals, self-absorption, entitlement and grandiosity. Their meaningless and purposeless lives, heavy in judgement and criticism of others that they thought less of, their sense of entitlement to all good things, left me cold. I found The Bolter less than a sympathetic character. She made bad decisions, used people relentlessly, lacked depth and insight into her own behavior and actions, and was not at all surprised by her deserving reputation, her loneliness, loss and abandonment at the end of her life.
Redcatlady More than 1 year ago
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.
tpt87 More than 1 year ago
Interesting, fast-paced, and intriguing at every turn.
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LaurenBDavis More than 1 year ago
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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kellisat More than 1 year ago
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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OhMercurialMe More than 1 year ago
This book is an interesting read, and though it began a bit slowly, it did pick up toward the latter half of the book. What I found most compelling about the story is the secretive lifestyle of the Victorian-era English (and the few Americans the book touches on). While I'd always expected those (especially the upper-class) living during the Victorian age to be prudish and the picture of morality, I was stunned by the self-indulgent, highly promiscuous, and morally depraved behavior these "pillars of society" displayed. People have talked about the selfishness, as well as the outlandish and self-destructive behavior of those who were coming of age during 1980's and 90's....but I'll tell you, in my opinion (especially being one who was in her teens through her 20's during that time, and certainly not leading a "sheltered" life) that the latter portion of the 20th century couldn't hold a candle to what was going on during the early 1900's! Those folks took partying to a whole different level! So, if you'd like a peek into the over-indulgent, decadent lifestyles of the rich and famous of the Victorian age, this is book to read.
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