Saturday 20 November 2010

The Viceroy's Daughters

This is one of the books on my list for inter-war reading.  The subtitle is 'The Lives of the Curzon Sisters'; I think it should be 'How to be Miserable and/or Spectacularly Stupid'.

 For example:

-Have towering ambition
-Be a complete control freak
-Be so arrogant and controlling that no one can stand you
-Make people dislike you so much they make a point of halting your advancement
-Marry for money, discover it's been left elsewhere and you're dependent after all
-Live far beyond your personal means
-Reject your children once you can no longer control them or their money
-Use lawyers to fight with your children about their money
-Love and marry someone who is serially unfaithful as a chosen way of life
-Be rich and beautiful, marry someone poor, then get bored with them
-Be rich and beautiful, marry someone lacking intellect or wit, then get bored with them
-Party continuously, getting lewder, drunker and more ridiculous so as not to be bored
-Be a woman with a 'strong personality' in an era when men only want women who defer
-Marry a woman with money so she can be at once bossy, possessive and dismissive
-Have all the money one could possibly want and spend it foolishly and with abandon
-Make your hobby the expensive refurbishment of large historical estates which you only rent and don't even own
-Hang out with the Prince of Wales, notorious for unexpectedly dropping his closest friends
-Be hopefully dependent on notoriously fickle friends
-Hang out with rich people who have never worked and only know how to party
-Be fabulously wealthy and still manage to blow it all and end of broke and in debt
-Make a married man with no intention of divorce your heart's only desire
-Let your married man keep you on a string so he can reel you back when he wishes
-Refuse all likely husbands, pining for your married man
-Regret the lack of husband and children ever after
-Become a politician in troubled times
-Become a politician and switch sides - twice
-Have an unquenchable desire for personal power

All that, and I'm only half way through!  It's a great book for encouraging frugality and a simple life, let me tell you!  Though it's all fascinating stuff, there's not a person I've read about so far with whom I'd trade places.

Turns out the Curzon women are linked to the Mitford women (also on that reading list) via Oswald "Tom" Mosley (wife one Cynthia Curzon; wife two Diana Mitford Guinness).  This is not a man I would wish to have within 100 miles of me; he was once voted by BBC History Magazine as the 20th century's worst Briton. The astonishing thing is that this is not a novel or a soap opera, but a biographical work with credible sources, mainly the diary of Irene, the eldest daughter who appears on the cover.  The most admirable characters, so far, all die pretty young.

However, much as I hate soaps, the houses, the clothes and the history in this book are fabulous!


Anonymous said...

excellent book.

Jo said...

Every book has some redeaming factors if you look hard enough!