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Looking for a thrilling listen that covers scandal, intrigue, and high society? Look no further than Frances Osborne’s “The Bolter” audiobook. Dive into the captivating story of Idina Sackville, a woman no stranger to scandal, whose life is explored in detail in this audio review.

Key Takeaways:

  • Frances Osborne’s “The Bolter” offers a captivating portrayal of the scandalous life of Idina Sackville.
  • The audiobook explores themes of societal expectations, unconventional relationships, and the struggle against societal norms.
  • Readers and critics have praised the book for its engaging storytelling and unique perspective on Idina Sackville’s life.
  • “The Bolter” audiobook is recommended for those interested in scandalous high society stories and unconventional women throughout history.
  • “The Bolter” audio review is a must-listen for those seeking a captivating story of intrigue and scandal in high society.

Introduction to “The Bolter” by Frances Osborne

Discover “The Bolter” by Frances Osborne, an audiobook that delivers a captivating account of the scandalous life of Idina Sackville. As a prominent figure in high society, Idina’s life was characterized by failed marriages, affairs, and a yearning for personal liberation.

With “The Bolter,” Frances Osborne brings the high society intrigue, scandal, and personal liberation of Idina Sackville’s narrative to life in a way that is both entertaining and informative.

Themes Explored in “The Bolter”

As an exploration of Idina Sackville’s life, “The Bolter” delves into several themes worth noting:

  • High Society Intrigue: The narrative portrays the glamorous yet cut-throat world of high society, exposing the political maneuvering, social status hierarchies, and backstabbing that characterized it.
  • Scandal: The audiobook represents Idina Sackville’s life, marked with scandalous affairs, and failed marriages.
  • Personal liberation: Despite being constrained by societal norms of the times, Idina Sackville sought personal liberation and autonomy, an experience that is vividly portrayed through Frances Osborne’s narration.

About the Author, Frances Osborne

Frances Osborne is an accomplished author, journalist, and historian. She was born in London in 1969 and is the daughter of the historian David Cannadine. She studied at Oxford University, where she earned a degree in modern history and modern languages.

Osborne has worked as a journalist for several publications, including The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Times, and The Independent. She has also written several books on a diverse range of topics, including historical biographies, novels, and non-fiction works. Her writing style is lauded for combining meticulous research with engaging storytelling.

Given her background in history and journalism, it is no surprise that Osborne’s work often explores historical figures and events. In “The Bolter,” she examines the wild life of Idina Sackville, an aristocrat and socialite who caused a stir in high society during the early 20th century.

Overview of Idina Sackville’s Life

Idina Sackville was a notable figure in early 20th-century England, renowned for her unconventional lifestyle and infamous affairs. Married and divorced five times, Sackville earned the moniker “The Bolter,” a nickname that stuck throughout her lifetime. Born in 1893, Sackville was the daughter of a prominent British aristocrat. After marrying her first husband, Euan Wallace, in 1913, Sackville began a long and tumultuous journey through love and scandal.

Over the years, Sackville became infamous for her numerous affairs and love interests, including an intimate relationship with author and explorer Denys Finch Hatton, who was known for his affair with Karen Blixen, author of “Out of Africa.” Her tumultuous relationships and dramatic life would become the stuff of legend, inspiring various films, books, and works of art in the decades following her death.

Aside from her scandalous personal life, Sackville’s social status in early 20th-century England was another point of interest. She was a regular fixture in high society events and was considered a “Bright Young Thing” of her time, rubbing elbows with the likes of Winston Churchill and other notable figures of the era. Despite her status, Sackville was no stranger to controversy, having once been implicated in a drug scandal that rocked her social circle.

The legacy of Idina Sackville lives on, with her scandalous life and numerous marriages remaining a topic of fascination for historians, literary enthusiasts, and cultural critics alike.

Themes Explored in “The Bolter”

Frances Osborne’s “The Bolter” uncovers a myriad of themes that are weaved intricately into the narrative and offer a compelling exploration of societal expectations. One of the dominant themes of the book is the struggle of women against the restrictions placed upon them by society. The book provides a glimpse into the life of a woman who challenges these societal norms, upending expectations by engaging in multiple affairs, divorces, remarriages, and traveling extensively.

The unconventional relationships depicted in “The Bolter” also form an important theme that is explored throughout the book. Idina’s relationships bring to light the restrictive nature of societal expectations and the complexities that come with romance in high society. Osborne also sheds light on the impact of societal expectations on individuals, illustrating the high costs of not conforming to socially acceptable norms.

Moreover, “The Bolter” also delves into the influence of societal expectations on familial relationships. Osborne’s portrait of Idina’s marriage and relationship with her children underpins the price Idina paid for challenging her social expectations. All of these themes come together to offer a complex and nuanced understanding of the world in which Idina lived.

Writing Style and Narration of “The Bolter”

Frances Osborne’s writing style in “The Bolter” is captivating. She effortlessly blends historical facts with storytelling, bringing the characters to life and making the events of Idina Sackville’s life feel fresh and contemporary.

As an audiobook, “The Bolter” is especially effective, with an engaging narration that adds to the book’s overall appeal. The audiobook format immerses the listener in the story, making it an excellent choice for those who prefer a more immersive experience.

Emphasis on Dialogue

Osborne’s writing style features a heavy emphasis on dialogue. This feature makes the narration feel more engaging and allows the reader to become involved in the characters’ lives. Idina’s wit, charm, and scandalous behavior are brought to life through the characters’ conversation, making the audiobook a compelling experience.

Effective use of Historical Detail

Osborne’s use of historical detail in “The Bolter” is effective at setting the scene and bringing the narrative to life. The author uses historical events and references to make the story more believable and give readers an insight into the world that Idina inhabited.

audiobook format

The Narrator’s Voice

The narration for “The Bolter” is stylish and engaging. The narrator’s voice suits the tone of the book, and their interpretation of the characters adds an extra dimension to the audiobook. The listener becomes well-acquainted with Idina’s voice, which shifts from breathy and seductive to sharp and impudent in different parts of the book.


Overall, “The Bolter” is a delightfully written audiobook that captivates its readers. Osborne’s writing style and effective use of narration make it an excellent option for anyone who appreciates a well-told story.

Reception and Critiques of “The Bolter”

Since its release, “The Bolter” has garnered both praise and criticism from readers and critics alike. While some reviewers laud Frances Osborne’s captivating storytelling and gripping portrayal of Idina Sackville’s scandalous life, others question the depth of character development and accuracy of historical details.

In a five-star review, Goodreads user Jennifer Smith calls the audiobook “mesmerizing” and commends Osborne for her ability to transport listeners to the world of early 20th century high society. Similarly, Marina Warner of The Guardian applauds Osborne’s “stylish and compulsive” writing style and compelling portrayal of Idina’s complex character.

On the other hand, some reviewers such as Thomas Meaney of The Wall Street Journal point out historical inaccuracies and lack of depth in the character development. Nevertheless, this critique was offset by the positive review of The New York Times with Nick Ashford calling it “entertaining” and “engaging” stating that Frances Osborne’s work “brings Idina to vivid life” despite some historical inaccuracies.

Overall, while “The Bolter” has faced some criticisms, it remains a popular and compelling read for those fascinated with high society intrigue, unconventional women of the era, and the scandalous life of Idina Sackville.

Comparison to Other Works on Similar Subjects

In comparison to the other biographies on Idina Sackville, “The Bolter” offers a unique perspective that sets it apart from other works. While many other books on the subject may focus solely on Sackville’s scandalous reputation and romantic affairs, Frances Osborne’s book provides a more nuanced portrait of the woman behind the headlines.

One work that “The Bolter” could be compared to is “The Bolter and the Barrister” by Frances Donaldson. While both books explore the life of Idina Sackville, Donaldson’s work focuses more on the controversial custody battle over her son and the ensuing media circus. In contrast, “The Bolter” delves deeper into Sackville’s personal journey and the societal pressures she faced.

Another work that “The Bolter” may be compared to is “Lady Idina’s Daughter” by Frances Osborne’s husband, George Osborne. While both books are written by the same family, they take vastly different approaches to the subject matter. “Lady Idina’s Daughter” focuses on the life of Sackville’s daughter, Victoria, and her own personal struggles. In comparison, “The Bolter” is a comprehensive exploration of Sackville’s entire life and legacy.

Comparison Table:

Book Title Author Focus Perspective
The Bolter Frances Osborne Idina Sackville’s life Comprehensive portrayal, nuanced perspective
The Bolter and the Barrister Frances Donaldson Controversial custody battle Media circus, scandalous reputation
Lady Idina’s Daughter George Osborne Victoria’s life Personal struggles, familial dynamics

As the table demonstrates, “The Bolter” stands out among other books on Idina Sackville due to its comprehensive and nuanced perspective on her life and legacy. While other works may focus on specific incidents or aspects of her life, “The Bolter” provides a fuller picture of this scandalous and fascinating woman.

Impact of “The Bolter” on Understanding Idina Sackville’s Legacy

Frances Osborne’s “The Bolter” has had a significant cultural impact in shaping the understanding of Idina Sackville’s legacy. Through exploring the life of this unconventional woman, the book offers insights into the challenges faced by women in high society during the early 20th century.

The legacy of Idina Sackville is multifaceted and complex. Her reputation as a scandalous figure has followed her through the decades, obscuring her contributions and accomplishments. Yet, “The Bolter” gives readers a chance to explore the deeper, more nuanced aspects of her life and persona. The impact of this book has been to restore a degree of balance to the historical record and increase awareness of the many different roles women could play in the early 20th century.

Cultural Relevance

“The Bolter” is culturally relevant because it highlights the liberating possibilities available to women during the early 20th century. Women were redefining their roles and life paths in this era, and they faced a variety of social, political, and economic challenges. The book shows how Idina Sackville navigated these challenges successfully, carving out a space in society for herself as a non-conformist. It offers valuable insights into the struggle against societal norms and the impact of personal liberation.


The legacy of “The Bolter” is twofold. Firstly, it has helped to restore Idina Sackville’s reputation and give her the recognition she deserves for her unorthodox yet influential life. Secondly, the book has contributed to the broader conversation about unconventional women in history and the roles they played in shaping society. It is a reminder that women have always been agents of change, and that their stories are essential for a more complete understanding of the past.

Recommendations for “The Bolter” Audiobook

If you’re a fan of scandalous life stories and high society intrigue, “The Bolter” audiobook by Frances Osborne is a must-listen. The audiobook format is well-suited for this book, as it brings the characters and the setting to life with engaging narration that captures the essence of the time period.

However, it is worth noting that some sections of the book may be too risqué for younger listeners, so parental guidance is advised. Additionally, some listeners may find the pacing of the book slow in some parts, but the payoff is definitely worth it in the end.

Overall, “The Bolter” audiobook is a great choice for those who enjoy historical biographies and are interested in the unconventional lives of women during this era. Highly recommended for fans of Frances Osborne’s previous works.


Frances Osborne’s “The Bolter” offers a captivating exploration of the scandalous life of Idina Sackville. With themes of high society intrigue, scandal, and personal liberation, this audiobook is a must-read for fans of biographies and historical accounts.

The author’s writing style and effective narration make for a compelling listening experience, while the exploration of societal expectations and unconventional relationships offers a unique perspective on the era.

Although the book has faced some critiques, its significance in shaping the understanding of Idina Sackville’s legacy cannot be denied. Overall, we highly recommend “The Bolter” in audiobook format for those interested in an engaging and informative account of a fascinating historical figure.


What is "The Bolter" by Frances Osborne?

“The Bolter” is a book written by Frances Osborne that explores the scandalous life of Idina Sackville and the high society intrigue surrounding her.

Who is the author of "The Bolter"?

The author of “The Bolter” is Frances Osborne.

What is the background of Frances Osborne?

Learn more about Frances Osborne, the author of “The Bolter,” her writing style, previous works, and any connection she may have with the subject matter of the book.

What is the book about? Can you provide an overview of Idina Sackville’s life?

“The Bolter” delves into the intriguing life of Idina Sackville, exploring her marriages, affairs, social status, and the impact she had on the society of her time.

What are the themes explored in "The Bolter"?

“The Bolter” explores themes such as societal expectations, unconventional relationships, and the struggle against societal norms.

What is the writing style of "The Bolter" and how does it contribute to the overall narrative?

Examine the writing style employed by Frances Osborne and how it contributes to the engaging storytelling in “The Bolter.” Discuss the experience of listening to the audiobook and the effectiveness of the narration.

How has "The Bolter" been received by readers and critics?

Discover the reception of “The Bolter” among readers and critics, exploring both positive and negative reviews, and discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the audiobook.

How does "The Bolter" compare to other works on similar subjects or about Idina Sackville?

Compare “The Bolter” to other books that explore similar subjects or tackle the life of Idina Sackville to evaluate the author’s unique approach and perspective.

What impact does "The Bolter" have on understanding Idina Sackville’s legacy?

Analyze the cultural impact and significance of “The Bolter” in shaping the understanding of Idina Sackville’s legacy and its contribution to the broader conversation surrounding unconventional women of the era.

Do you recommend "The Bolter" as an audiobook?

Provide recommendations for potential readers or listeners who are considering “The Bolter” as an audiobook, discussing the suitability of the format, the target audience, and any potential warnings or considerations.

Can you summarize the key points of this audiobook review of "The Bolter" by Frances Osborne?

Summarize the compelling portrayal of Idina Sackville’s scandalous life and the exploration of high society intrigue present in the book.

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