Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Reading Corner - The Bolter by Frances Osborne

When I was in junior high, I had a friend (we'll call her "Beth") who was my complete opposite.  Beth and I hung out during the summer months because we ran with different crowds during the school year.  Her behavior fascinated me.  As a confirmed "goody-goody" who walked through the school halls with my nose in a book, only wore dresses and enjoyed spending time with my parents, I was amazed at her fearlessness.  She wore make up, talked back to adults, snuck out of her house and was much "faster" with the boys than I was (which wasn't hard..I barely knew they existed..)

As I got older, I tried a time or two to shake my good girl image, to no avail.  (In fact, I'm 99% certain I could go on a crime spree tomorrow, confess to everything and nobody would believe me..)  Over the years, I have learned to embrace it, but I never have quite gotten over my admiration for women who dare to push boundaries.

The Bolter is the story of Idina Sackville, as told by her great-granddaughter, Frances Osborne.  Frances' mother kept Idina a secret from her until she was 13 years old because she didn't want her to "think of her as a role model" or have her daughter known as "The Bolter's granddaughter".  This, of course, only fueled Frances' fascination with her great-grandmother.


Idina was irresistible.  Standing at only 5'3, she was an impeccable dresser.  While she was not conventionally beautiful, she could "whistle a chap off a branch."  And she frequently did..

Married and divorced five times, with countless lovers and a dog named "Satan", she caused quite a ruckus in proper Edwardian England.  (Where you could, of course, have an affair, but certainly MUST be discreet about it!)  In 1919, Idina married her much younger third husband and moved to Kenya where she hosted wild house parties for her friends (known as The Happy Valley Crowd) that usually ended in partner swapping games devised by Idina herself.


Under the surface, though, there was more to Idina.  She was full of vitality, intelligent and well read, loved freely and was an incredibly loyal friend.  Her friend Rosita, who was interviewed for the book, is quoted as saying "she was preposterously — and secretly — kind."  She was a woman who wanted to be loved.

The tale of The Bolter is masterfully told by her great grand-daughter.  Frances does a lovely job of telling of Idina's exploits without judgement and allowing you to feel Idina's free spirited character. The book is full of insight into who Idina was to her family, her friends and herself.

Whether you are the dashing, scandalous type, or just have an admiration for women who are, this book is an excellent read!

Hugs and Smooches,

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