Friday, 6 May 2016
It starts in 1830 with Juliet's great-great-grandmother Pepita, a Spanish flamenco dancer who caught the eye of (Old) Lionel Sackville-West, as opposed to his cousin (Young) Lionel who married Pepita's beautiful illegitimate daughter and inherited Knole. Then it flags a bit ... Famous Vita is disposed of quite quickly, as if to say heigh-ho, we've all been here before. It's impossible to care much about Juliet's spoiled, snobbish, alcoholic mother Philippa; she's simply a blow-in by marriage into this famous family - that was half her trouble. And by the last 100 pages, I'm afraid I was thinking, that's quite enough, thank you. But it did make me wonder about what it must be like living with this weight of too much ancestral information. I mean, which of us really wants to know about our parents' and grandparents' dysfunctional sex lives ...? Still, I admit that when I read my great-grandfather's diary it was a crushing disappointment to discover that he mostly wrote about Mass times and the weather.