In Nancy Mitford's novels, the narrator's mother is an elusive character, the Bolter, who dashes around the world, collecting husbands; together with the Hun-hating, entrenching tool-wielding Uncle Matthew, the Bolter is one of the most memorable and funniest characters. It turns out she was inspired by Idina Sackville, a five-time divorced eccentric who had fallen in love with Kenya - along with too many younger men she was keen on marrying.
In The Bolter, just released in the USA, her great-granddaughter Frances Osborne tells the story of her life. Not only does it portray a unique woman, but it also explores the mores of Edwardian London, the craziness of 1920's England, the impact of World War One, and the methods of English colonialism in East Africa. In Kenya, she was friends with the Dane Karen Blixen, who later wrote Out of Africa - they even shared a lover, Denys Finch Hatton.
Colonialism in Kenya was meant to be based on railroads - in the early 1980's I took the train from Nairobi to Naivasha with my family (see pic - I'm on the right). This fascinating book brought back many memories of Kenya where I lived as a child. Some of Osborne's lyrical description of Kenya's landscapes and wildlife stirred deep emotions in me, making me long for my very own paradise lost.
And if your paradise is all things books, do check out dear Gabbi's fabulous post on the topic. This must-see post features great pictures, an amazing visit to the Los Angeles Public Library, and, yes, an award for me...
I love reading, and I love Gabbi!