Country House Society
By Pamela Horn
(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
Demonstrating the tango at the Savoy Hotel