ONE TO WATCH OUT FOR: The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me by Sofka Zinovieff

Article published on February 25, 2015.

As a long-standing fan of Nancy Mitford’s work I was intrigued by The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me by Sofka Zinovieff. Lord Berners was the inspiration for Lord Merlin in The Pursuit of Love, he of the coloured doves and eccentric ways. Bright young things like the Betjemans, Cecil Beaton, Gertrude Stein, Igor Stravinsky and Salvador Dalí partied at Faringdon House with all sorts of curious relationships. On the edge of being a coffee table book – and certainly damn heavy – this was an intriguingly non-judgmental account of the era. The picture above is one of many black and white plates liberally scattered through the text. The horse is Moti, his handler is Penelope Betjeman and the artist is Lord Berners.

Travelling further back I noticed OUP were re-publishing Anthony Trollope and gave The Warden a try. Only my second Trollope but oh, what a joy of delicately considered characters, apparently doing nothing but heaving with emotion. And so many more Trollopes to go.

Guy Pringle, February 2015

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