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The Viceroy's Daughters: The Lives of the Curzon Sisters

3.81  ·  Rating Details  ·  421 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
For many years Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India (1898-1905), controlled all aspects of his daughters' lives. Irene (born 1896), Cynthia (born 1898) and Alexandra (born 1905) eventually revolted against their father's control. Irene had many affairs but never married. Cynthia married the up-and-coming Oswald Mosely, and Alexandra married the Prince of Wales best friend, Fruity ...more
Paperback, Women in History
Published January 1st 2001 by Phoenix (first published January 1st 2000)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,487)
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Sarah
Oct 22, 2013 Sarah rated it really liked it
Goodreads suggested that I might like this book based on my interest in the Mitfords and, as Irene, Cynthia and Alexandra Curzon, the Viceroy’s daughters, were brought up in England in great wealth and privilege, I expected a fluffy gossipy history full of house parties, swish balls and scandalous liaisons. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that in addition to parties and scandal (and there was certainly enough scandal to satisfy me, and then some), deCourcy gives us an intimate look of som ...more
Franny
Jan 19, 2012 Franny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book is very well written and researched, but... Those three sisters are totally pale personalities compared to the mitford sisters. The curzon sisters , what I get from the reading of this book, are plain amoral persons who have not contributed a bit in the world. They have not been to the spanish war, didn t contribute a bit in arts nor literature (though one of them wrote a book that even at the time it was publish not even close to have any success), nor helped advance women in society n ...more
The Library Lady
Aug 25, 2009 The Library Lady rated it really liked it
I'm surprised that no one has thought of turning this into a mini-series. Everything is there--the pre-war glamor,infidelities, celebrities and scandal, war time heroism.

DeCourcy paints vivid portraits of the 3 sisters, their flaws and their strengths. Truthfully, I found none of them that likable, but that is part of the skill of this telling--you see the women for whom they were.
Laurie
Jan 24, 2014 Laurie rated it really liked it
A biography of the aristocratic Curzon sisters who were contemporaries of the Mitfords and ran in circles with Wallis Simpson. The shenanigans that these old-timey proper Brits got up to never fail to surprise me, no matter how much Evelyn Waugh, Nancy Mitford and others I read.
Fiona
Feb 03, 2013 Fiona rated it really liked it
Here is an extract from the precis on Goodreads. No point in me writing something. It was enough to get me hooked, as as with de Courcy's biog of Diana Moseley, I'm not disappointed thus far:

Cynthis (‘Cimmie’) married Sir Oswald Mosley,joining him first in the Labour Party,where she became a popular and successful MP before following him into fascism. Alexandra (‘Baba’), the youngest and most beautiful, married the Prince of Wales’s best friend, Fruity Metcalfe. Within a month of her death from
...more
Anne
Dec 03, 2014 Anne rated it really liked it
Oh boy, this is a tough one. Many names I am totally unfamiliar with, and though interesting, it is a tough read for an American. Maybe much of this is familiar to English people and residents of the UK? So, why am I reading it and why will I finish? I am very interested in WHY the titled, very rich, privleged, people of that time CHOSE and wanted to be Fascists, pro Hitler, and Communist, all while being friends with the MONARCHY? They were their own undoing! Thanks to these idiots, their histo ...more
Christina
Jan 25, 2011 Christina rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
This was a fascinating look at three women prominient in British society in the first half of the 20th century. The book was interesting on two levels: as a study of the sisters' relationships with each other, and as a review of their friendships and affairs with people in the larger circle of British society. Having just finished a book on the Mitford sisters, this was another look at Tom Mosley and his relationships with society women (Diana Guinness and the Curzon sisters).
Beverly
Sep 13, 2013 Beverly rated it really liked it
Biography of the three daughters of Curzon, Viceroy of India. Intimate portrait of privileged society in UK - one daughter married Tom Moseley, and husband of another was close friend of Edward, Duke of Windsor. Their lives are played out at a period which saw the rise of fascism, the abdication of the King and the Second World War. A little heavy in social and political content at times but, overall, a fascinating read and excellent writing style.
Mary
Jun 21, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it
The Curzon's were another interesting prominent family of the 1920's and 1930's in particular. Made even more interesting by their links with the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (as they became) and Oswald Mosley.
Annie Garvey
Jan 18, 2013 Annie Garvey rated it really liked it
I cannot believe the morals of the generation between the wars. And what was the Oswald Mosley's hold on the sisters? What a mess, but you can't put it down.
Leslie
Sep 16, 2014 Leslie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating non-fiction book about the aristocracy from the 1920s through WWII. The story centers around three sisters who knew everyone involved in world events and had everything. They could be annoying with their excessive wealth and nothing to do but go to parties, travel, have affairs, and quarrel among themselves but should some strong character as the world events pulled them into action. The reader gets an inside look at some pivotal characters, the Facist movement, the abdication of E ...more
Rebecca
I liked it - but the last part, post-second world war, felt a bit rushed.
Maryanne
Nov 27, 2014 Maryanne rated it it was amazing
What a group of inward looking women of privilege ,Baba who never thought about anything but herself ,Her children and husband left to wander around picking up crumbs of affection if any.Irene bouncing from one man to another only her strength in her love for her niece and nephews prevented her from becoming another Idina.Cimmie the only one to remain steadfast in the face of her husband Toms infidelities......giving up on life due to exhaustion of trying to be all he wanted and still failing.Th ...more
Mlg
Aug 16, 2013 Mlg rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I wanted to read this book because Mary Leiter, later Lady Curzon, showed up in my family tree. She and the Viceroy play minor roles in the story, which is really the tale of their three daughters. Irene, the oldest, who never married, is the most likeable. She took care of her sister's children, but battled alcoholism much of her life. She did some good works toward the end of her life. Cimmie, the middle child, marries the adulterous Tom Mosley, a Facist. She dies young and he proceeds to ign ...more
queen esther
Jul 20, 2013 queen esther rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies, history
This book is a trip.

If you want to know how the other half on the other side of the pond lived at the turn of the century, this is the book for you -- especially if that other half happens to be beautiful, rich, titled gentry, with the world's most powerful and influential men in their midst and yep, in their beds. This was a time when aristocratic life in the UK (and the rest of Europe, for that matter) was a thing of wonder. The opulence! The splendor! The money! These sisters embodied all of
...more
Hannah
Oct 16, 2013 Hannah rated it liked it
"The Viceroy's Daughters" started well enough. The life of an interesting family from an interesting time in 20th century history was enough to sustain my interest for at least half of the book, until certain aspects started to get irritating. While much is made of Baba's charity work and her "well-deserved" OBE, there is little evidence of anything even resembling a charitable personality, particularly when one considers the amount of time spent feuding with her sister over petty squabbles. The ...more
Sherri Stephens
Sep 29, 2014 Sherri Stephens rated it liked it
Shockingly candid view of the aristocracy in the 1900's. They had tons of money yet they cheated,lied, and embraced Facism. These daughters of privelege lived very sad lives although we have front row seats to the British Monarch crisis of Edward VIII. Fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy the book from the standpoint of the era and how the Curzon sisters mother is also an American heiress marrying into artistocracy. I gave the book 3 stars because it did drag on a bit towards the last 5 chapters.
Becky Loader
Nov 20, 2014 Becky Loader rated it really liked it

After reading about the Curzon sisters, I think the Gabor sisters seem like the March sisters. My goodness, but the British aristocracy has different rules than the rest of humankind. Oh, wait. They have no rules!

George Curzon was all about the wealth and privilege of the upper British class in the late 19th century. As Viceroy of India, he reveled in the pomp and circumstance, and he returned to England with his eye on being Prime Minister. He never quite made it.

His three daughters, Irene, Cy
...more
Bev
Dec 06, 2011 Bev added it
For most of this I was fascinated. The three women lived through some of the most interesting events of the 20thC and were close enough to the centre of power and influence to see it all first hand.
But, as I read on I became more and more irritated with them. They had vast wealth and influence and time, but they spent most of it in frivolity and self-destructive love affairs. They could, with very little effort have made a huge difference to the lives of others, but by and large didn't. Or at le
...more
Alexandra
May 18, 2015 Alexandra rated it really liked it
What began as a very dry biography bloomed, as the viceroy's daughters came into their own, into a rich and compelling depiction of the highest echelons of British society leading up to and through the second world war. Major players besides the sisters include the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Diana Mitford, and Lord Halifax. The insight into the Windsors I found particularly fascinating.
Amy
Feb 16, 2014 Amy rated it liked it
A sad story in so many ways. Money and position can't assure happiness, especially when daughters lose their mother young and are raised by a father who could be kindly described as "demanding." An interesting peek at the upper classes "between the wars," as well as some weird insights into the politics of the time.
Wynne
Jun 24, 2014 Wynne rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anyone interested in the early to mid 20th century
This is a well written biography of 3 women who lived in a different world. The book was dragging a bit after the death of their father, but picked up interest as it moved into the 30's. A number of well-known people were a big part of their lives and this made it even more fascinating. Oswald Mosely and the Windsors do not come off well (but they don't in other books either). I felt it was worth the time.
Syl
Feb 23, 2015 Syl rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly a master use of personal letters and documents to uncover the lives, both external and internal, of three sisters living on the heartbeat of social and political upheavals of the early 20th century.
Verity W
I enjoyed this book and it was very readable, but I didn't really like any of the Curzon sisters that much! It was a nice counterpoint to all the Mitford reading I've done recently though - as it showed the other side of the Cimmie Curzon/Oswald Mosley/Diana Guinness triangle. The other thing it bought home to me (again) is what a nightmare the Duke and Duchess of Windsor were - now Wallis has always come across as a diva (and if you haven't read Gone With the Windsors by Lauren Graham go do it) ...more
kitty
Jan 30, 2016 kitty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant

I wanted to read this book after I'd read about Diana Mitford by the same author and the Curzon sisters were well documented due to their intertwined lives. I was not disappointed. This really was a truly brilliant book. Held my interest throughout well researched and written. Sometimes a little repetitive but you can forgive this as it never becomes boring. If you like this era in history and enjoy reading about the sometimes spoilt and pampered rich and how their lives become connecte
...more
Claudia Majetich
Mar 19, 2015 Claudia Majetich rated it liked it
Downton Abbey folks, only in real life. Easy to read. Gossipy. Most interesting part was about how portions of English upper class were close to fascism, and Hitler himself.
Dawn Piburn
Sep 23, 2015 Dawn Piburn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought Diana Mosley was vapid and shallow - then I met the Curzon sisters. Living lives of wealth and privilege, they consorted with the Prince of Wales and Wallis Simpson (who, as an earlier review noted, did the British Empire a huge favor by marrying Edward, thus sparing the country from the immature and childish Edward as king, especially during WW2).

I just couldn't like any of them, Baba especially. Spoiled, vain and with the morals of an alley cat in heat, she slept with her middle sis
...more
Donna Jo Atwood
The Viceroy was George Curzon, who ruled India during the last years of Victoria's reign. He also ruled his three daughters lives (one could say micro-managed now.) Anyway, he was a remarkable man in many ways and the daughters--Irene (Nina), Cynthia (Cimmie), and Alexandria (Baba)--grew up during the 20s and 30s leading very full lives. Friends of the Royal Princes-David, George, Henry (Think The King's Speech--they met, talked, and slept with a number of Britian's Society's darlings.
This was e
...more
Valerie
Sep 20, 2008 Valerie rated it really liked it
As usual, I am intrigued by the glamorous lives of the prewar turn of the century lives of the wealthy in Britian and America. This book caught my eye because Lord Curzon married an American heiress whose father was was partner of Marshall Field in Chicago. Once again it was American guilded age money keeping British nobility afloat. The three Curzon daughters were very famous in the time as great beauties and socialites and were all part of Nancy Astor's Cliveden set. And one daughter was even ...more
Becky
Aug 21, 2015 Becky rated it really liked it
As someone intrigued by Britain in the period between the world wars, I really enjoyed this book. Having read a few biographies of Wallis Simpson (duchess of Windsor), I found this a great companion to that and an interesting and engaging read.
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Anne de Courcy is a well-known writer, journalist and book reviewer. In the 1970s she was Woman’s Editor on the London Evening News until its demise in 1980, when she joined the Evening Standard as a columnist and feature-writer. In 1982 she joined the Daily Mail as a feature writer, with a special interest in historical subjects, leaving in 2003 to concentrate on books, on which she has talked wi ...more
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