Wednesday, July 6, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: The Edwardians

Title: The Edwardians

Author: Vita Sackville-West

Publisher: Virago

RRP: $24.99

ISBN: 9780860683599

Release Date: June 2011

Pages: 304


A bestseller in 1930, this is a brilliant portrait of fashionable society at the height of the Edwardian Era, revealing, through the lives of Sebastian and Viola, all that was best in it - and all that was to lead to its downfall.

At nineteen, Sebastian is a duke and heir to a vast country estate. A deep sense of tradition binds him to his inheritance, though he loathes the social circus he is a part of. Deception, infidelity and greed hide beneath the glittering surface of good manners. Among the guests at a lavish party are two people who will change Sebastian's life: Lady Roehampton, who will initiate him in the art of love; and Leonard Anquetil, a polar explorer who will lead Sebastian and his free-spirited sister Viola to question their destiny.

A portrait of fashionable society at the height of the era, THE EDWARDIANS revealed all that was glamorous about the period - and all that was to lead to its downfall. First published in 1930, it was Vita Sackville-West's most successful book.


Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), distinguished novelist, poet and critic, was brought up at Knole, and lived with her husband, Harold Nicolson, at Sissinghurst in Kent. She was the inspiration for Virginia Woolf's novel, ORLANDO.


"The Edwardians" is author Vita Sackville-West's perhaps only thinly fictionalized account of the life of the British Upper Class at the beginning of the 20th Century and the end of the reign of King Edward VII. The Edwardians is set in 1905 and 1906 (and then in 1910), and features Sebastian, a duke and owner of an estate called Chevron. His family is of the elite, and he rubs elbows with the cream of society, among whom are Lady Roehampton, a matron with whom he has an affair, and an adventurer named Leonard Anquetil, and Sebastian's mother Lucy and his sister Viola, who strains against the parameters that society has set for her life. Despite his wealth and the privileges that come with it, however, Sebastian feels trapped, and he finds himself faced with a heavy decision to make.

Despite being published first over 70 years ago, this book is fresh and a great read.

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