Coun­try House So­ci­ety

By Pamela Horn

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - THE GUIDE -

(Am­ber­ley, 320 pages, £9.99) In re­cent years, the pub­lic has been en­thralled by the First World War and glossy pe­riod dra­mas ex­plor­ing the sub­se­quent de­cay of the old or­der. This fi­nal book from the late Pamela Horn taps into this fas­ci­na­tion, sur­vey­ing up­per-class life be­tween 1914 and the early 1930s.

The war, de­priv­ing the aris­toc­racy of its sons and trans­form­ing its homes into hospi­tals, stained so­ci­ety with a grief that is mov­ingly doc­u­mented here. Through­out, Horn uses di­aries and let­ters to paint an in­ti­mate por­trait of pri­vate life dur­ing the tran­si­tion into the Roar­ing Twen­ties, set­ting the ‘ill-bred es­capades’ of the younger gen­er­a­tion against the anx­i­eties of their par­ents and – briefly – the grit­tier back­drop of so­cial un­rest. PPar­tic­u­larly in­nter­est­ing is the exp­plo­ration of new freee­doms en­joyed by well--to-do women, in­clud­ding the Mit­ford sis­ters,, but it con­fines it­self to High So­ci­ety – noth­ing more than a gra­cious nod is given to the ser­vants.

Al­though the book suf­fers some­what from a lack of good qual­ity il­lus­tra­tions, it of­fers a gen­tle and en­joy­able so­cial his­tory of Eng­land’s ti­tled fam­i­lies at a time when the coun­try it­self was ‘chang­ing hands’.

Emily Brand is a writer

and his­to­rian

Demon­strat­ing the tango at the Savoy Ho­tel

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