Daughter of Empire
By Pamela Hicks
A source of inspiration for the film Viceroy's HousePamela Mountbatten was born at the end of the 1920s into one of Britain's grandest families. The daughter of Lord Louis Mountbatten and his glamorous wife Edwina Ashley, she was brought up by nannies and governesses as she was often parted from her parents as they dutifully carried out their public roles. A solitary child, she learned to occupy her days lost in a book, riding or playing with the family's animals (which included at different times a honey bear, chameleons, a bush baby, two wallabies, a lion, a mongoose and a coati mundi). Her parents' vast social circle included royalty, film stars, senior service officers, politicians and celebrities. Noel Coward invited Pamela to watch him filming; Douglas Fairbanks Jr. dropped in for tea and Churchill would call for 'a word with Dickie'.After the war, Pamela truly came of age in India, while her parents were the Last Viceroy and Vicereine. This introduction to the country would start a life-long love affair with the people and the place.
By Douglas Hurd, Edward Young
Benjamin Disraeli was the most gifted parliamentarian of the nineteenth century and a superb orator, writer and wit - but how much do we really know about the man behind the words?'As Douglas Hurd and Edward Young point out in their splendidly written, finely judged and thoroughly persuasive book, a vast chasm yawned between the real Disraeli and his posthumous reinvention' Dominic Sandbrook, SUNDAY TIMES'Not only, they tell us in this vigorously debunking romp through his political life, did he never use the phrases "One Nation" or "Tory Democracy", he was actively hostile to the concepts that they are now understood to represent' Sam Leith, THE SPECTATOR'The book is more a study in character . . . than a staid political narrative. As a result, Disraeli: Or the Two Lives is full of unexpected jolts and paradoxes . . . It proves an unflagging pleasure to read' Richard Davenport-Hines, GUARDIAN'So intoxicating that you will find yourself snorting it up in one go, as I did, with great pleasure' Boris Johnson, MAIL ON SUNDAY
The Devil And Maria D'avalos
By Victoria Hammond
Steeped in the overripe beauty, violence and exoticism of sixteenth century Naples, this is the riveting story behind one of the most famous and terrible murders in the history of the Renaissance. In 1590, the great and tormented composer Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, murdered his beautiful wife Maria d'Avalos and her aristocratic lover. Gesualdo was a character of Shakespearian proportions: nobleman, musical genius and, for the last sixteen years of his life, madman-or so it is alleged. With the chilling calculation of a hunter, he staged the violent and bloody murder of the lovers like an opera. Yet far from ending his torment, in the years that followed Gesualdo became increasingly persecuted by his furies and demons. Inspired by this story that has haunted generations of Neapolitans and ignited the imaginations of artists the world over, Victoria Hammond has written a lush and sensual evocation of love, desire and madness, vividly imagining the life of the mysterious and seductive Maria, her tormented marriage to Carlo, and her affair with Fabrizio Carafa, the handsomest and accomplished nobleman in Naples.
The Duff Cooper Diaries
By John Julius Norwich
The long awaited and highly revealing diaries of the politician, diplomat, and socialite (married to Lady Diana Cooper)Duff Cooper was a first-rate witness of just about every significant event from 1914 to 1950. His diary includes some magnificent set pieces - as a young soldier at the end of WWI, as a politician during the General Strike of 1926, as King Edward VIII's friend at the time of the Abdication, and from Paris after the liberation in 1944, when he became British ambassador. If Duff Cooper's name has dimmed in the 50 years since his death, publication of these diaries will bring him to the fore once again. His family have long resisted publication - indeed Duff Cooper's nephew, the publisher Rupert Hart-Davis, was so shocked by the sexual revelations that he suggested to John Julius Norwich that it might be best for all concerned if they were burnt. Now, superbly edited by John Julius Norwich, who familial link ensures all kinds of additional information as footnotes, these diaries join the ranks.