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The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother And Me by Sofka Zinovieff at Abbey's Bookshop,

The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother And Me

Sofka Zinovieff



Autobiography: general;
British & Irish history;
Postwar 20th century history, from c 1945 to c 2000


448 pages

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Faringdon House in Oxfordshire was the home of Lord Berners, composer, writer, painter, friend of Stravinsky and Gertrude Stein, a man renowned for his eccentricity - masks, practical jokes, a flock of multi-coloured doves - and his homosexuality.

Before the war he made Faringdon an aesthete’s paradise, where exquisite food was served to many of the great minds, beauties and wits of the day.

Since the early 1930s, his companion there was Robert Heber-Percy, 28 years his junior, wildly physical, unscholarly, a hothead who rode naked through the grounds, loved cocktails and nightclubs, and was known to all as the Mad Boy.

If the two men made an unlikely couple, at a time when homosexuality was illegal, the addition to the household in 1942 of a pregnant Jennifer Fry, a high society girl known to be 'fast', as Robert's wife was simply astounding. After Victoria was born, the marriage soon foundered (Jennifer later married Alan Ross).

Berners died in 1950, leaving Robert in charge of Faringdon, aided by a ferocious Austrian housekeeper who strove to keep the same culinary standards, albeit in a more austere age. This was the world that Sofka Zinovieff, Victoria’s daughter, a typical child of the 1960s, first encountered at the age of 17.

Eight years later, to her astonishment, Robert told her he was leaving her Faringdon House.

Her book about Faringdon and its people is marvellously witty and full of insight, bringing to life a vanished world and the almost fantastical people who lived in it.

By:   Sofka Zinovieff
Imprint:   Vintage
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 175mm,  Spine: 26mm
Weight:   1.201kg
ISBN:   9780099571964
ISBN 10:   009957196X
Pages:   448
Publication Date:   November 2016
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Sofka Zinovieff was born in London in 1961. She studied social anthropology at Cambridge, then lived in Greece and Moscow. She is the author of three previous books, Eurydice Street: A Place in Athens, Red Princess: A Revolutionary Life (both Granta) and The House on Paradise Street. She is married to a Greek and lives in Athens.

As classy and consuming a memoir as you're likely to read all autumn. -- Caroline Sanderson * Bookseller * Prepare to be seduced by outlandish delights and strange creatures. -- Sebastian Shakespeare * Tatler * Sumptuous. -- Daisy Goodwin * Sunday Times * A vivid sketch of the extraordinarily glamourous society of Faringdon in its heyday, especially during the 30s. -- Dinah Birch * Guardian * Zinovieff is an entertaining and amiable companion on this, at times, uncomfortable romp through her family saga. -- Sara Wheeler * The Times *

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