Last week I wrote my first book review in a very long time. I reviewed Young Elizabeth by Kate Williams and mentioned that I’ve been reading a lot of history books recently. I love reading about women from the past, how they lived their lives and how society treated them differently to how we do today.
One of the books I read recently was The Viceroy’s Daughters by Anne De Courcy. The book tells the life stories of the three daughters of Lord Curzon, who is best known as being the Viceroy of India. The book mainly focusses on the events of the 20s, 30s and 40s. The sisters were key players in the London social scene and are absolutely fascinating to read about.
Having read quite a few books on the Mitfords it was nice to visit a new family and learn all about a new set of sisters. I am really interested in reading about the upper classes in the early 20th century. It was a time of great political turmoil and like the Mitford sisters, politics plays a large part in the lives of the Curzon sisters, especially Cimmie who was even an MP at one point.
Cimmie, Irene and Baba are all really interesting women. Cynthia Curzon (Cimmie) was married to Oswald Mosely the leader of The British Union of Facsists, before her death and his later marriage to Diana Mitford. It is so interesting to see how the politics of many British aristocrats became so extreme and how many admired and related to Germany, Hitler and the Third Reich. Also reading about Diana Mosely (Mitford) from a different point of view was a huge highlight of the book.
The book starts by going into detail about the life of their father and you do have to wait a while before you read much about the sisters. Their fathers personal and political life is also a very interesting read. He held many positions of power and was also nearly became Prime Minister. His relationships after his wife’s death are complex with both his mistress, second wife and his daughters.
The book follows the daughters and the key people in their lives through many personal and social changes and for anyone with an interest in the early 20th century, it really is a fascinating read. The book also goes into huge detail on the lives of Edward VIII and Wallace Simpson, who were good friends with Baba’s husband. The events surrounding the abdication and their marriage were such a huge part of British history and seeing them in this intimate light is completely engrossing.
The book is beautifully written and extremely well researched. The author delves into personal letters and diaries, many of which are quoted heavily throughout the book. Having not known anything about the sisters before picking up the book, I felt like I knew them personally by the time I had finished.
If you love social history and enjoy reading about the lives of women in the past, then you will almost definitely enjoy this book. I feel like I learned a lot from it and it painted such a clear picture of the era, that it was like stepping back in time. I am currently reading another book by Anne De Courcy, which I will be reviewing as soon as I’ve finished it.
As usual, keep your book recommendations coming. I’ve had so many since my last review, that my wish-list is getting very long on Amazon.
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