“It was a house to live in, not to rush out from all day to kill enemies and animals,” wrote Nancy Mitford of Faringdon House. Sofka Zinovieff inherited Faringdon from her grandfather ’the Mad Boy” of the title, Robert Heber-Percy, the lover of Lord Berners. Sofka first went to Faringdon, a house with an illustrious and chequered history, with her mother, Victoria, when she was seventeen. “Entering the gates at Faringdon took me into an unfamiliar yet hugely seductive realm. It was a version of passing through the fur-coat-filled wardrobe into Narnia: there were strange creatures and outlandish delights and preoccupations.” Within eight years of her first visit, Sofka was the owner of this extraordinary house, a place, as she writes, “almost overwhelmed by the spirits of its past inhabitants,” a roll-call of most of the famous names of the 20th century.