Washington Post reviews The Mad Boy

For those in need of a “Downton Abbey” fix, Sofka Zinovieff’s “The Mad Boy, Lord Berners, My Grandmother, and Me” (Harper, $35) delivers an entertaining dose of British country life and high-style scandal. Zinovieff’s grandfather was the dashing Robert Heber-Percy, who along with his lover, Gerald Berners, “created an aesthete’s paradise” atFaringdon, their stately home in Oxfordshire. Berners was known for, among other things, dyeing doves in colorful shades and holding elegant dinners with the likes of Gertrude Stein, Igor Stravinsky, Salvador Dali and H.G. Wells. Zinovieff, who now lives at Faringdon, mines her family history in this beautifully illustrated book, focusing on the period in the 1940s when her grandmother, already pregnant, married Percy and came to live with him and Berners. It would be easy to see these three central figures as “caricatures,” Zinovieff writes, but in her well-researched, engaging memoir, she paints a nuanced portrait.

 

 

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