The Bolter

  • by Frances Osborne
  • Narrated by Susan Duerden
  • 10 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
An O, The Oprah Magazine #1 Terrific Read
In an age of bolters - women who broke the rules and fled their marriages - Idina Sackville was the most celebrated of them all. Her relentless affairs, wild sex parties, and brazen flaunting of convention shocked high society and inspired countless writers and artists, from Nancy Mitford to Greta Garbo. But Idina’s compelling charm masked the pain of betrayal and heartbreak. Now Frances Osborne explores the life of Idina, her enigmatic great-grandmother, using letters, diaries, and family legend, following her from Edwardian London to the hills of Kenya, where she reigned over the scandalous antics of the “Happy Valley Set.” Dazzlingly chic yet warmly intimate, The Bolter is a fascinating look at a woman whose energy still burns bright almost a century later.


See More Like This

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

A woman like no other …

Sadly my first review of this fascinating book was rejected. I had no idea you could not link to an external site. Sadly it was just some external pictures of the memorable ‘Clouds’ house on Flicker. Lesson learned.

What is there to say about a great granddaughter finding out about the immoral and yet ever-so vivacious relative from the turn of the 20th century? Quite a lot based on this great book. It is a well written and absorbing book that details Idina Sackville and her associates of the “Happy Valley Set” in the Aberdare Hills of Kenya.

Some would that Idina Sackville was simply a “tart” of her age. But that would be inaccurate! She was a liberator of all women with an appetite for the opposite sex. She lived her life as she willed it – sometimes in utter exuberance and sometimes in utter sadness. She lived in a romantic age of strict morals and etiquette but she chose to break most of those along the way. She showed her liberating manner by bolting from a number of her five marriages whilst throwing partner swapping soirees. Most of these are well explained throughout the book.

Sadly, she never achieved lifelong happiness. But she dies in her country of love, Kenya. I loved her life and her adventurous life. Great book.
Read full review

- Saman "I am a lover of history and the fantastic tales of human achievement (or folly). Sometimes, a grand author captures my imagination."

When being bad is no good

What would have made The Bolter better?

I agree with the reviewers who said that, while well-researched, the author makes interesting material tedious. I am a fan of The Bolter a la Nancy Mitford and have loved reading about Beryl Markham, the Mitfords, etc. so I thought this book would be a no-miss for me. Oy. So dull. Like reading a laundry list of bad behavior.

Has The Bolter turned you off from other books in this genre?

No. It has given me an appreciation for those who make the genre come alive.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Susan Duerden?

This is going to sound out there but someone like Davina Porter, who does the Outlander books, might have helped this book come alive. Susan Duerden has wonderful diction but her sing song delivery adds to the soporific quality of the whole experience.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

This book ended up depressing me to the point where I had to stop listening. No wonder so many of the Happy Valley set met tragic ends. After listening to most of the book, morphine starts to sound like a good idea.

Read full review

- Anne A. Kennedy "aakennedy"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-31-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios