What a wonderful book. I came to this book with only scant knowledge of Nancy aka Lady Astor. The main source of my knowledge was a book I'd read by her loyal maid Rosina Harrison called "[b:Gentlemen's Gentlemen|2959699|Gentlemen's Gentlemen|Rosina Harrison|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1260714362s/2959699.jpg|2989206]" which focussed on British butlers and which extensively featured Edwin Lee who was Lady Astor's head butler for most of her life in England. From that book all I had gleaned was that she was an American, who had relocated to England, and become an aristocratic woman of power and social significance.
Her story is so interesting and compelling, and her personality so powerful, that the book is a real page-turner. Adrain Fort appears to be in thrall to Nancy, and with good reason. Born in 1879, her earliest years were mired in economic uncertainty before her father finally managed to come good and provide significant wealth and prosperity to his family. From there she married into one of the world's richest families, and became the first female MP to enter the British Parliament after winning the tough and economically deprived constituency of Plymouth where she became a local legend. This biography provides an excellent historical context to her life whilst never losing focus on its core subject. She lived through extraordinary times: the aftermath of the US Civil War, two world wars, the depression, female emancipation, and massive social change. Her energy and charisma shine through every chapter and yet the writer remains clear eyed about her many mistakes and personality flaws too. A book about an extraordinary woman that does full justice to its subject. At the end of the book I felt genuinely sad to have finished her story which inevitably concludes with the end of her remarkable life.