Consuelo Vanderbilt was young, beautiful and the heir to a vast family fortune. She was also deeply in love with an American suitor when her mother chose instead for her to fulfil her social ambitions and marry an English Duke. Leaving her life in America, she came to England as the Duchess of Marlborough in 1895 and took up residence in her new home – Blenheim Palace.
The 9th Duchess gives unique first-hand insight into life at the very pinnacle of English society in the Edwardian era. An unsnobbish, but often amused observer of the intricate hierarchy both upstairs and downstairs at Blenheim Palace, she is also a revealing witness to the glittering balls, huge weekend parties and major state occasions she attended or hosted. Here are her encounters with every important figure of the day – from Queen Victoria, Edward V11 and Queen Alexandra to Tsar Nicholas, Prince Metternich and the young Winston Churchill.
Causing a scandal by separating from the Duke after 11 years, Consuelo began her new life as philanthropist, public speaker and campaigner for women’s suffrage. Her literary soirees would include H G Wells, JM Barrie and George Bernard Shaw. In 1921 she remarried aviator Jacques Balsan moving with him to a chateau in the South of France.
This intimate, richly enjoyable memoir is a wonderfully revealing portrait of a golden age.