Sunday, 8 November 2009

Lady Lazarus

Lady Alexandra Curzon (Baba)

For the past few days I have been bedridden with one of those seasonal viruses which make everything except sleep and watching rubbish telly, impossible. The title of this post alludes to the title of Plath's poem Lady Lazarus but I thought it was fitting as I had been reading so much about the upper classes before I fell ill. Thankfully, I have been well enough to read today and have continued to be gripped by Anne De Courcy's biography of the three Curzon sisters, The Viceroy's Daughters.

Irene, Cimmie and Baba were the three daughters of Viceroy Curzon and were born during a time when the British upper classes were at their ruling zenith. Irene was born in 1896, Cimmie (Cynthia Blanche) was born in 1898 and Baba (Alexandra Naldera) was born in 1904. Their mother Lady Mary was the daughter of an extraordinarily rich American, Levi Ziegler Leiter. Due to Leiter's wealth all three Curzon sisters were heiresses of a vast sum of money.

The biography charts their lives and is a fascinating insight into the lives of the wealthy during the early twentieth century. Cimmie was the first wife of Oswald Mosley, the leader of the British Union of Fascists, and the book delves into both the rise and demise of this murky political party. The lives of the three sisters are set against the backdrop of the wider goings on within society at the time, as much to contextualise their lives as because their lives were entwined with many political leaders of the day.

What startled me was the extent of the bed hopping that occurred between the higher levels of society. They were apparently insatiable in their extra-marital appetites. It seems that as long as no one openly spoke about it, anything went.

This is a fantastic read to transport you to the glamour, glitz and gossip of the first half of the twentieth century and was exactly what I needed to help me recuperate.


  1. Oh :( Hope you are feeling much better now.

    I read this years ago when I found it unread on my mum's bedside table. Absolutely fascinating but quite sad, too. I love biographies that take you back to the glitz and glamour of the early 20thc.

  2. I only know about Cimmie through what I've read about Mosley and the Mitfords. Will definitely have to look for that.

    I hope you're feeling better soon!

  3. Hello Bloomsbury Bell – I hope you don’t mind me popping in! I’m a British author and a fellow Bookblogs member and my next novel, Thaw, will be published online next year after its physical publication. I wanted to invite you (and your readers) to participate in my Blogsplash - there’s more information at Thanks for listening!

  4. That style of photography is so gorgeous isn't it. I have yet to read an Anne De Courcy book but I must do at some point as she's written about some very interesting people and topics.

    Hope you're feeling much better. I have a cold at the moment and am going through teabags at an alarming rate!

  5. Hello. I am sorry to read that you are not feeling well; hope that passes quickly. I am here via nonsuch book, and I like your blog very much (we seem to read many of the same people). Will be back...

  6. I read this book about a year ago, while on holiday in Cyprus (quite a contrast!) It really is fascinating and, as I find with so many books, opened up whole avenues of new reading. I enjoyed your review and looking forward to following more on your blog.