In the Edwardian age women were beginning to break down stereotypes. Suffragettes, women workers, and bolters—women who fled from their families to get freedom—were in the spotlight.
Idina Sackville was one of the most prominent of the bolters. Born into privilege, she married Euan Wallace, a dashing officer who was heir to millions. They were blissfully rich and blissfully happy at least in the beginning--living a life of excess, full of balls, society dinners, and two showplace homes. When Euan fell in love with another woman, Idina decided the only way she could keep her pride would be to take lovers of her own. From there they began to lead frenetic, semi-separate lives. Finally Idina decided she was in love with Charles Gordon, and bolted again to Kenya with him—a place where many former British military men were moving after the Great War. In doing so she was forced to leave behind her two young sons, and was not to see them again until they were adults.
When her marriage to Gordon ended she continued her fevered search for security, but also craved excitement, drugs and new lovers. The area where she lived near Nairobi with her third husband, Josh Hay, was known as Happy Valley for its parties that lasted for days, full of alcohol, drug use and promiscuity. She bore a third child, a daughter, but was forced to send her back to England and safety with her aunt when the native Kenyans rose against the British Colonialist planters who were taking their land. She divorced and remarried two more times, never finding the happiness she sought, and later lost her sons and her one true love, Euan, in a short time. She kept a picture of Euan until her death.
Frances Osborne discovered her relationship to her scandalous great grandmother as a teen. In this gripping read she explores Idina’s life using letters, diaries, family photos and stories pried reluctantly from her relatives, who disliked the notoriety of their flamboyant relative. This paints a picture of the tumultuous time between the wars, mores of society which caused the loss of her sons, and draws attention to the ways in which Idina was always reaching for happiness, yet could never do more than touch it for a moment.