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A deliciously told group biography of the young, rich, American heiresses who married into the impoverished British aristocracy at the turn of the twentieth century – the real women who inspired Downton Abbey
Towards the end of the nineteenth century and for the first few years of the twentieth, a strange invasion took place in Britain. The citadel of power, privilege and breeding in which the titled, land-owning governing class had barricaded itself for so long was breached. The incomers were a group of young women who, fifty years earlier, would have been looked on as the alien denizens of another world - the New World, to be precise. From 1874 - the year that Jennie Jerome, the first known 'Dollar Princess', married Randolph Churchill - to 1905, dozens of young American heiresses married into the British peerage, bringing with them all the fabulous wealth, glamour and sophistication of the Gilded Age.
Anne de Courcy sets the stories of these young women and their families in the context of their times. Based on extensive first-hand research, drawing on diaries, memoirs and letters, this richly entertaining group biography reveals what they thought of their new lives in England - and what England thought of them.
In this captivating narrative, Chanel’s Riviera explores the fascinating world of the Cote d’Azur during a period that saw the deepest extremes of luxury and terror in the twentieth century.
The Cote d’Azur in 1938 was a world of wealth, luxury, and extravagance, inhabited by a sparkling cast of characters including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Joseph P. Kennedy, Gloria Swanson, Colette, the Mitfords, Picasso, Cecil Beaton, and Somerset Maugham. The elite flocked to the Riviera each year to swim, gamble, and escape from the turbulence plaguing the rest of Europe. At the glittering center of it all was Coco Chanel, whose very presence at her magnificently appointed villa, La Pausa, made it the ultimate place to be. Born an orphan, her beauty and formidable intelligence allured many men, but it was her incredible talent, relentless work ethic, and exquisite taste that made her an icon.
But this wildly seductive world was poised on the edge of destruction. In a matter of months, the Nazis swooped down and the glamour of the pre-war parties and casinos gave way to the horrors of evacuation and the displacement of thousands of families during World War II. From the bitter struggle to survive emerged powerful stories of tragedy, sacrifice, and heroism.
Enriched by original research and de Courcy’s signature skill, Chanel’s Riviera brings the experiences of both rich and poor, protected and persecuted, to vivid life.
Based on unpublished letters and diaries, The Viceroy's Daughters is a riveting portrait of three spirited and wilful women who were born at the height of British upper-class wealth and privilege.
The oldest, Irene, never married but pursued her passion for foxes, alcohol, and married men. The middle, Cimmie, was a Labour Party activist turned Fascist. And Baba, the youngest and most beautiful, possessed an appetite for adultery that was as dangerous as it was outrageous.
As the sisters dance, dine, and romance their way through England's most hallowed halls, we get an intimate look at a country clinging to its history in the midst of war and rapid change. We obtain fresh perspectives on such personalities as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Oswald Mosley, Nancy Astor and the Cliveden Set, and Lord Halifax. And we discover a world of women, impeccably bred and unabashedly wilful, whose passion and spirit were endlessly fascinating.
'The most sensational book on the Royal Family in recent times' Sunday Telegraph
'Offers a fascinating insight into not just his life but the social mores of the day' Evening Standard
How did a photographer who was a relentless playboy, an unashamed womaniser and a leather-clad motorcyclist marry the Queen's sister and become the Establishment figure Lord Snowdon? The brilliantly talented Antony Armstrong-Jones often humiliated Princess Margaret, yet he was compassionate to the causes he cared about. Since his death in 2017, Snowdon still hasn't escaped the limelight, as more and more is revealed about his wild and intriguing life.
Written with exclusive access to Snowdon and the people closest to him, this book uncovers the real man and his times. Addressing the facts behind the myths - the secret courtship of Margaret, the love child born just weeks after the royal marriage, the affairs on both sides, the suicide of one mistress and the birth of an illegitimate son to another - this balanced yet no-holds-barred account of Snowdon's life is essential reading for fans of The Crown and Ma'am Darling.
Diana Mosley was a society beauty who fell from grace when she left her husband, brewery heir Bryan Guinness, for Sir Oswald Mosley, an admirer of Mussolini and a notorious womanizer. This horrified her family and scandalized society.
In 1933, Diana met the new German leader, Adolf Hitler. They became close friends and he attended her wedding as the guest of honor. During the war, the Mosleys' association with Hitler led them to be arrested and interned for three and a half years. Diana's relationships with Hitler and Mosley defined her life in the public eye and marked her as a woman who possessed a singular lack of empathy for those less blessed at birth.
Anne de Courcy's revealing biography chronicles one of the most intriguing, controversial women of the twentieth century. It is a riveting tell-all memoir of a leading society hostess, a woman with intimate access to the highest literary, political, and social circles of her time. Written with Mosley's exclusive cooperation and based upon hundreds of hours of taped interviews and unprecedented access to her private papers, letters, and diaries, Lady Mosley's only stipulation was that the book not be published until after her death.
From the author of the critically acclaimed biographies Diana Mosley and The Viceroy's Daughters comes a fascinating, hugely entertaining account of the Victorian women who traveled halfway around the world on the hunt for a husband.
By the late nineteenth century, Britain's colonial reign seemed to know no limit—and India was the sparkling jewel in the Imperial crown. Many of Her Majesty's best and brightest young men departed for the Raj to make their careers, and their fortunes, as bureaucrats, soldiers, and businessmen. But in their wake they left behind countless young ladies who, suddenly bereft of eligible bachelors, found themselves facing an uncertain future.
With nothing to lose and everything to gain, some of these women decided to follow suit and abandon their native Britain for India's exotic glamor and—with men outnumbering women by roughly four to one in the Raj—the best chance they had at finding a man.
Drawing on a wealth of firsthand sources, including unpublished memoirs, letters, photographs, and diaries, Anne de Courcy brings the incredible world of "the Fishing Fleet," as these women were known, to life. In these sparkling pages, she describes the glittering whirlwind of dances, parties, amateur theatricals, picnics, tennis tournaments, cinemas, tiger shoots, and palatial banquets that awaited in the Raj, all geared toward the prospect of romance. Most of the girls were away from home for the first time, and they plunged headlong into the heady dazzle of expatriate social life; marriages were frequent.
However, after the honeymoon many women were confronted with a reality that was far from the fairy tale they'd been chasing. With her signature diligence and sensitivity, de Courcy looks beyond the allure of the Raj to tell the real stories of these marriages built on convenience and unwieldy expectations. Wives were whisked away to distant outposts with few other Europeans for company. Transplanted to isolated plantations and remote towns, they endured heat, boredom, discomfort, illness, and motherhood removed from familiar comforts—a far cry from the magical world they were promised upon arrival.
Rich with drama and color, The Fishing Fleet is a sumptuous, utterly compelling real-life saga of adventure, romance, and heartbreak in the heyday of the British Empire.