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The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother…

The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me: An Aristocratic Family,…

by Sofka Zinovieff

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The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me

The ‘Me’ in Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother and Me is Sofka Zinovieff the author of this wonderfully intriguing book about the occupants of an Oxfordshire Manor House in the twentieth century. This is a fun read written in a wonderful and easy to read style packed with some fantastic photographs.

Besides writing about herself Sofka introduces us to the cast her grandmother Jennifer Fry the heir to the Fry Chocolate dynasty and the only daughter of Geoffrey Fry; the mad boy is Robert Heber-Percy who may or may not be the grandfather of the author; Lord Berners is the gay lover and benefactor of Robert, who happens to be eccentric as well as a composer, writer and artist; and the manor house is Farringdon.

Lord Berners throughout the 1930s entertained the fashionable and well connected in society London of the time. Farringdon is where they could come and play not having to worry about what others thought so we get a star studded cast all the way through the book; with people such as The Mitford sisters, HG Wells and Igor Stravinsky the list is endless.

This book enlightens us to Lord Berners and how he became involved in the much younger bisexual Robert. We also get to look inside the world of Jennifer Fry who never does reveal the name of the biological father of Sofka’s mother. If this were today the red top papers would be filling their pages with the gossip of what was happening at Farringdon.

This book is a well presented well written book which lovingly tells us of all the eccentrics and eccentricities that took place at Farringdon. This is a pleasure to read and takes us back to a world that has since died whatever some people say. ( )
  atticusfinch1048 | Dec 31, 2014 |
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When I was seventeen, my mother took me to stay with her father for the first time.
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Book description
This beguiling tale of a scandalous ménage à trois among England’s upper classes is a high society love story that combines memoir and biography into a fascinating, heady read in the vein of The Bolter and Portrait of a Marriage.

Among the glittering stars of British society, Sofka Zinovieff’s grandparents lived and loved with abandon. Robert Heber-Percy was a dashing young man who would rather have a drink than open a book, so his involvement with Jennifer Fry, a beautiful socialite famous for her style and charm, was not surprising. But by the time Robert met and married Jennifer, he had already been involved with a man—Gerald, Lord Berners—for more than a decade.

Stout, eccentric, and significantly older, Gerald was a well-known composer, and at home among scholars. He also owned one of Britain’s loveliest stately homes, Faringdon House in Oxfordshire. The two made an unlikely couple, especially because they lived together at Faringdon House when homosexuality was illegal. And then a pregnant Jennifer moved into Faringdon in 1942, creating a formidable ménage à trois.

In this gorgeous, entertaining narrative of bohemian aristocracy illustrated with dozens of photographs, Sofka Zinovieff probes the mysteries of her grandparents and the third man in their marriage. Who was Gerald, and what brought Robert and Jennifer together under his roof? Why did Jennifer marry Robert? Piecing together the complicated reality behind the scandals of revelry and sexuality, she finally allows old ghosts to rest
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The author's narrative account of her bohemian aristocrat grandparents' unconventional relationship with her grandfather's gay lover examines the period taboos, family secrets and cultural dynamics that shaped their shared lives.

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