Cindy's Reviews > Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter

Mrs. Keppel and Her Daughter by Diana Souhami
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Mar 12, 11

bookshelves: biography
Read from March 05 to 12, 2011

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 into an unabashed soap opera.

The "great love" Violet's life was a volatile 3 year affair with Vita Sackville-West whose husband Harold was a homosexual. Harold and Vita proclaimed how much they loved each other, but also used the marriage to hide their sexual preferences. In retaliation Violet married a Denys Trefusis and this is the mess they had:

"Somewhere in Violet's perception of social behavior was the idea that marriage was a socially acceptable cover for socially unacceptable sex. It was the fulcrum of those Edwardian house parties, the cover used by her mother, the King, Harold, Vita. Denys Trefusis was oblivious to the emotional intricacy of his postwar fate. He did not know how he was to be used. He had had an awful war, fought in the battle of the Somme, endured years of slaughter, threat and fear. He was emotionally precarious, not strong or well. Mrs. Keppel wanted him to make her daughter respectable. Violet wanted him not for himself but to appease her mother and provoke Vita into breaking with Harold so her love would be for her alone."

In the following note that Lady Sackville was Vita's mother:

"Gossip swelled. Ozzie Dickinson told Lady Sackville that Violet wanted to separate Vita and Harold. Violet told her she intended to marry Denys who had not got a penny, that Harold was stifling Vita's writing career, that Vita was not in love with him. Vita told her Harold was too sleepy and quick to be a good lover. Harold told her Violet was trying to destroy his home life by constantly ridiculing it. Lady Sackville told Harold that Violet was pernicious and amoral. Vita made Violet promise not to have any sexual exchange with Denys. And Violet told Vita how she loved her overwhelmingly, devastatingly, possessively, exorbitantly, submissively, incoherently and insatiably." Oy vey.

Mrs. Keppel had a second daughter named Sonya who became the mother of Camilla Parker-Bowles who was of course, the big love of Prince Charles's life. The author draws many comparisons between the old time and modern day relationships.


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03/07/2011 page 138
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