Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Viceroy's Daughter: The Lives of the Curzon Sisters by Anne de Courcy

The Viceroy's Daughter:   The Lives of the Curzon Sisters by Anne de Courcy  (2000, 422 pages)

George Curzon, Earl Curzon of Kedleston, was the Viceroy of India 1898 to 1905.    He inherited a small fortune and married a much bigger one,  the  daughter of the American founder of what became Marshall Fields.    His marriage to Mary Leiter (1895 to 1906-born 1870-died 1906) was the great joy of his life and his greatest tragedy when she died in his arms.   From this marriage three daughters were born.   Each of the daughters received a large yearly legacy from their mothers, equivalent of millions of dollars today.   There father was left in control of their money until they turned twenty one.   

Once their mother was gone, their father did very much love them but he was rarely there in person.   He married a second time and had his own tumultuous life.   The girls had a lot of mother figures in their lives but all in all this is kind of a 1920s version of "Rich girls gone wild book".    One of the daughters, Irene (1896 to 1966) never married but had affairs with numerous married men (including one of her brother in laws) and with alcohol.    Another daughter Alexander, called throughout her life, Baba, married a really handsome pretty stupid man twenty years older than her who was a then close friend of the Prince of Wales.  (He also figures in the book and comes across as not bright at all!)   His first name was "Fruity" and I could not help but see this as a bad omen!.   Baba was also a serial adulterous, all of her affairs  were with minors nobles and such.   Another sister, Cynthia (1898 to 1937) married a man who became the leader prior to WWII of the Bristish Fascists and was a great admirer of Adolph Hitler. He aspired to be the Mussolini of England.  His wife and his sister in laws nearly worshipped him.    He loved to dress up in black uniforms and speak at giant Rallies. At its heights, his group had about 35,000 members.  The sisters all pretty much admired Hitler (in  the early years this was a bit common among British aristocracy.)     When his wife died he began a romance with his sister in law Irene and also her step mother.

There are enough entagelments for a dozen soap operas.   Up until WWII begins and London is attacked the two surviving sisters pretty much have no redeeming qualities.   The war brings out the best in them and sort of forces them into a bit of maturity and responsibility.   They worked throughout the war as volunteers as nurses and air raid wardens, often working 12 hours a day and coming home filthy.   But don't worry too much they still partied on!.   

This is an interesting book for its social history and for the many people we learn about in the book.   It is easy to see the sisters as rich spoiled brats (no body in this book from the girls to their men on down seems to have ever read a book!) lead around by their libidos and trying to show Daddy he was "not the boss of them" any more.   I think I paid about $2.00 for this book but for reasons that I cannot fathom it is now on sale at Amazon for $43.95 to $8.95.   I cannot really endorse the purchase of this book for much more than $2.00.   It is interesting most of the times but it is hard to really care about the sisters.   They almost seem like idiots at times.   

Mel u

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