Irene (born 1896), Cynthia (b.1898) and Alexandria (b.1904) were the three daughters of Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India 1898-1905 and probably the grandest and most self-confident imperial servant Britain ever possessed.
After the death of his fabulously rich American wife in 1906, Curzon's determination to control every aspect of his daughters' lives, including the money that was rightfully theirs, led them one by one into revolt against their father.The three sisters were at the very heart of the fast and glittering world of the Twenties and Thirties.
Irene, intensely musical and a passionate foxhunter, had love affairs in the glamorous Melton Mowbray hunting set. Cynthia ('Cimmie') married Oswald Mosley, joining him first in the Labour Party, where she became a popular MP herself, before following him into fascism. Alexandra ('Baba'), the youngest and most beautiful, married the Prince of Wales's best friend Fruity Metcalfe. On Cimmie's early death in 1933 Baba flung herself into a long and passionate affair with Mosley and a liaison with Mussolini's ambassador to London, Count Dino Grandi, while enjoying the romantic devotion of the Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax. The sisters see British fascism from behind the scenes, and the arrival of Wallis Simpson and the early married life of the Windsors. The war finds them based at 'the Dorch' (the Dorchester Hotel) doing good works. At the end of their extraordinary lives, Irene and Baba have become, rather improbably, pillars of the establishment, Irene being made one of the very first Life Peers in 1958 for her work with youth clubs.
Anne De Courcy's meticulously researched biography of the three Curzon daughters contains the material and stories which today would have the tabloid newspapers editors racing for their cheque books. The book is primarily about the scandalous and often disastrous lives of three sisters, daughters of one of the grandest viceroys of India. It also throws considerably light on a number of other well-known members of aristocratic society between the two Great Wars. The reason for this was that quite simply their lives and in particular their love lives were all intertwined. Lord Curzon spent most of his life regretting that he was recalled from India and all the trappings that went with the post of Viceroy with supreme power. Although later in Government his talents were recognised with Cabinet Posts, Curzon felt that he had failed and this sense of failure extended to his marriages and more importantly to the relationship or more often than not lack of relationship with his three daughters. These three daughters, Baba, Cimmie and Irene, unashamedly shared each other's husbands and lovers just as they might have shared their toys when they were younger. The result was constant conflict, making up, intrigues and scheming, whilst using the power, money and the family name to bed-hop their way around society. The most intriguing character, who permeates much of the book, is Tom Mosley. Mosley was an unashamed philanderer who slept with all three sisters as well as countless other women as he changed his political affiliations to the point where he founded and led the British Fascist Party, The Blackshirts, during the 1930s. The book also sheds more light on the scandalous liaison between the Prince of Wales and Mrs Wallis Simpson, which led to his abdication and their ostracism from the Royal Family. The link in this case was The Prince of Wales best friend and best man Fruity Metcalfe. who was in charge of the Prince's hunting stables and was unhappily married to Baba Curzon. Ramsey McDonald said of Mrs Simpson after seeing her swept to Ascot in a royal carriage: " The people of this country do not mind fornication but they loathe adultery" - much of this highly entertaining historical book is about both. Review by John Russell (Kirkus UK)