“A bloodcurdling tale… There can seldom have been a better first sentence in a book by a daughter about her mother.” – The Spectator
Like so many in English high society during the 1930s, Jeanne Camoys Stonor was an outspoken Nazi sympathiser. The fiery half-Spaniard was also the mistress of Hitler’s foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, and later suffered the loss of her fiancé in the Spanish Civil War – in all likelihood murdered at the hands of Soviet spy Kim Philby.
With the Second World War looming, Jeanne swiftly married Sherman, only son of the 5th Baron Camoys and heir to the ancient Catholic seat of Stonor Park in the Oxfordshire countryside. With the aid of her long-suffering staff, she ran the estate with manic intensity, fuelled by a steady flow of contraband cigarettes, shooting parties, church grandees and aristocratic lovers.
Evoking Mommy Dearest and Brideshead Revisited in equal measure, her daughter Julia has written an intimate memoir of growing up in the black comedy that was daily life at Stonor, as Jeanne embarked on a lifelong campaign to see off all challengers to her newly acquired fiefdom.
– 352pages, illustrated
First published by Desert Hearts in 2006