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Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter
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Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter

3.52  ·  Rating Details ·  247 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Alice Keppel, the married lover of Queen Victoria's eldest son and great-grandmother to Camilla Parker-Bowles, was a key figure in Edwardian society. Hers was the acceptable face of adultery. Discretion was her hallmark. It was her art to be the king's mistress and yet to laud the Royal Family and the institution of marriage. Formidable and manipulative, her attentions to ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published October 15th 1998 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published April 25th 1996)
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Apr 22, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people with lots of tissues or a punching bag
Although the book is entitled “Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter,” the book really focuses mostly on Violet, and the years of her torrid affair with Vita Sackville-West is the climax that the book builds to and falls flat away from. Souhami’s mission here is very simple: to rescue Violet Trefusis from her perceived rôle as a selfish, designing woman, the inconsiderate homewrecking, husband breaking, unreasonable hussy who leaves ruined lives in her wake. It’s an old stereotype, of course, and one tha ...more
Dec 14, 2014 BrokenTune rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I read this book in parallel with Nigel Nicolson's Portrait Of A Marriage and the below review combines my thoughts on both books. (Review first published on BookLikes.)

Let the cat fight begin!

In the red corner, Diana Souhami, defender of Violet Trefusis. In the blue corner, Nigel Nicolson, son of Vita Sackville-West and representing her point of view.

No, I'm not going to try and write this as a ring report, but for the most part of reading both in parallel it has been as if I was watching a box
Dec 21, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, lgbtq
I hadn't heard of Violet Trefusis until I watched the mini-series adaption of "Portrait of a Marriage"; but after that, I wanted to know everything about her. Arguably Vita Sackville-West's affair with Virginia Woolf has become more famous over time than her affair with Violet, but I think that the Violet/Vita relationship is so much more meaningful: it's a truly grand, sweepingly epic, and heartbreakingly tragic tale. It's impossible not to feel sympathetic for both Violet and Vita -- they both ...more
Aug 05, 2014 pam rated it liked it
Having just read Portrait of a Marriage by Nigel Nicolson, I must say I was rather disappointed by Souhami's literary style: essentially a series of short sentences reporting miscellaneous sundry facts with very little in-depth analysis. However, the end of the book gives a more profound view of the life and motives of Violet so I am giving this book a grudging 3 stars. In any case, it is fascinating to read the two books consecutively, first one sees Vita's point of view and then one sees Viole ...more
Jan 04, 2015 Caroline rated it it was ok
I had hoped to enjoy this book more than I did. You would think a book about Edward VII's Royal Mistress Alice Keppel and her daughter Violet's passionate and destructive lesbian love affair with Vita Sackville would be a fascinating, revealing, utterly engrossing read. And yet somehow this book never really connected with me. I felt like Diana Souhami never really scratched the surface of her subjects, never really made an effort to delve below that glossy veneer. There was absolutely no attemp ...more
Jan 26, 2011 Adrienne rated it really liked it
I'd read Violet and Vita's letters to each other a few years ago, so I knew all the basics, but it was nice to get Mrs. Keppel's story as well. Violet and Vita always strike as so sad, because it's so much misery and heartbreak and emotional cruelness and desperation, all because they couldn't be together - both because society wouldn't recognize a lesbian couple, and because Vita couldn't bring herself to leave the safe haven of her husband and her home, no matter how much she loved Violet. The ...more
Mar 05, 2011 Cindy rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
What a relief to finish this book! I need a page turner, please. I was attracted to the pretty cover and intrigued by the story of Alice Keppel who was the last mistress of King Edward VII (son of Queen Victoria),
and her daughter Violet, a lesbian whose series of affairs caused a lot of distress for her mother.

Alice scorned her mother's life style and longed to live an open life, free of Edwardian hypocracy. Trouble is, she was extremely self-centered, and very cruel to others. The book descends
Oct 02, 2009 Melissa rated it liked it
Shelves: history-stuff
Full of gossip, scandal, sex and royalty, I had really high hopes for this book. And though it was a good book, it wasn't a great book. It was just missing something.
It's the story of Alice Keppel, "official" mistress to King Edward and her daughter, who had quite the passionate love affair with Vita Sackville-West, among others.
With the scandal and the passionate love letters and the sham marriages, you would think this would be quite the page turner. It sorta was. I think what was missing for
Jun 28, 2012 Caroline rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2012
Didn't finish this one, read about 3/4s.

I picked this up because I had so loved Portrait of a Marriage, and Violet Keppel was Vita Sackville-West's first lover. Her mother, Mrs. Keppel, was the mistress of King Albert. The first third of the book reads wonderfully as a history and biography of high society under Victoria and then Albert's reign. But the subsequent focus on Violet can't make her obsessive personality and lack of self awareness interesting. There are few things less interesting to
4/4.5 - Poor Violet! I couldn't help but admire her for her passion, her despair, her convictions and her hatred for social conventions and hypocrisy. My admiration only faltered to be replaced by pity when she ended up becoming the parody of her mother and of what she had loathed of the Edwardian society. It was understandable though; it was all a façade that hid a broken woman.

I also wanted to appreciate Vita's character, lifestyle and kind of marriage with Harold but for that I need to read m
Willa Grant
Nov 22, 2010 Willa Grant rated it liked it
An accurate but pretty depressing book. It seems that Vita Sackville-West's "Portrait of a Marriage" was clearly a self-serving look at the situation between Violet & Vita. Violet Keppel was a complete lesbian & very in love with Vita. Unlike Vita she really didn't swing both ways & was not going to be OK in a hetero marriage. She was also very much her mother's creature. Aside from making me feel sorry for Violet this book was a fascinating look into Victorian morality & the maj ...more
Erika Nerdypants
"My heart was more disgraceful, more alone, and more couragous than the world has known. O passer-by, my heart was like your own" Words of Violet Trefusis, who was tragically in love with Vita Sackville_West. God help us to love wisely or not at all.
Feb 12, 2009 Jessica rated it it was amazing
Honestly, I never thought this sort of stuff would strike my fancy... But I'm diving into the books about this time period and lesbianism with some sort of green gusto. Like I never knew any of this stuff.
Aug 07, 2011 Elli added it
Tough to read: Much like watching a freight train crash in slow motion. Can't help but feel pity for Violet Trefusis for losing her head over Vita Sackville-West. Mrs. Keppel's pragmatist approach was no doubt more rewarding for her family.
Apr 22, 2014 Dona rated it did not like it
I couldn't make it through this book but it wasn't for lack of trying .... I wanted to get more insight into Mrs. Keppel's life after her lover Bertie died but this book bogged along and put me to sleep.
Annie Garvey
Nov 21, 2012 Annie Garvey rated it really liked it
I think often about Queen Alexandria laughing about King Edward and his mistress Mrs. Keppel as they road together in a carriage. Both were well cushioned.
Oct 31, 2014 Wurtsboroboy rated it it was ok
Not really what I was expecting.
May 06, 2014 Duncan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting and fills in a lot of gaps on these people. Sad life though
Sep 13, 2012 Kimberly rated it really liked it
Those Edwardians and their offspring were a randy bunch!!!
Phyllis rated it it was amazing
Jun 05, 2012
John rated it liked it
Jan 21, 2014
Jill rated it liked it
Oct 25, 2014
Jodie rated it it was ok
Aug 05, 2011
Susan rated it liked it
Oct 29, 2010
Hg Ramsay
Hg Ramsay rated it really liked it
Apr 04, 2015
Emma Bridger
Emma Bridger rated it really liked it
Mar 06, 2016
SoundofSilence_BookFan rated it it was amazing
Jun 04, 2013
Hunter A.
Hunter A. rated it liked it
Jan 23, 2015
Randy rated it it was amazing
Jul 21, 2013
Leslie Feaster
Leslie Feaster rated it really liked it
May 06, 2012
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  • A Circle of Sisters: Alice Kipling, Georgiana Burne Jones, Agnes Poynter, and Louisa Baldwin
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Diana Souhami was brought up in London and studied philosophy at Hull University. She worked in the publications department of the BBC before turning to biography. In 1986 she was approached by Pandora Press and received a commission to write a biography of Hannah Gluckstein. Souhami became a full-time writer publishing biographies which mostly explore the most influential and intriguing of 20th c ...more
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